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Harper M. Stantz Rec Park Music Fest carries on virtually

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BINGHAMTON (WBNG) -- In any other year, Binghamton's Recreation Park would have been full of people enjoying the music of the annual Harper M. Stantz Rec Park Music Fest.

The festival has been held since 1996, but beginning last year, it was named in Stantz's honor after she was killed by a drugged driver near the park in March 2019.

"This is a way to honor her for as long as we have the festival and celebrate her every year," said festival organizer Jim Reyen. "She loved music, she loved the community, and she loved to celebrate and be outside."

This year would've been Stantz's graduation year, and Reyen said holding the festival in Harper's honor made sense from the beginning.

"Her family lives right near Recreation Park, and I've known them a long time,' he said. "But it's mainly that I'd look out every year and I'd see the family and the girls dancing up front and I associate them with the festival."

Normally the festival would feature several bands and eager attendees, but due the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival moved to a live-stream format with one band.

"Even though you might be watching remotely your family can come over you can have close friends that you're comfortable with," Reyen said. "It gives you something to look forward to."

The festival also served another purpose this year, helping raise funds for the Our Space Playground after it was destroyed in June.

"It made a lot of sense as we moved forward to add that element so next year, if we can resume having it here, the kids would have that incredible playground," he said.

For more information on how you can donate to help rebuild the playground and celebrate the life of Harper Stantz, click here.

Jack Arpey

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