NEPA Scene Staff

Scranton’s Nay Aug Park hosts free Sunday afternoon concerts through Oct. 8

Scranton’s Nay Aug Park hosts free Sunday afternoon concerts through Oct. 8
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From a press release:

On May 21, the city of Scranton began hosting its weekly summer concert series with Reel in the Years.

The free afternoon shows will continue at Nay Aug Park (500 Arthur Ave., Scranton) every Sunday at the Showmobile parked next to the pool area. The additional Wednesday evening concerts have not been announced yet.

2023 Nay Aug Park concert/event schedule

Sunday, May 28 at 2 p.m.: Luongo Brothers Band

Tuesday, May 30 at noon: Ron Leas Big Band (Memorial Day program)

Sunday, June 4 at 2 p.m.: Tom Gavern & Friends

Sunday, June 11 at 2 p.m.: Bill Kolata & John Lewis Duo

Sunday, June 18: Father’s Day antique car show by Villa Capri Car Cruisers Car Club (all day, no band)

Sunday, June 25 at 2 p.m.: The Fabulous 45s

Sunday, July 2 at 2 p.m.: Jack Bordo, Jim Cullen, & Sharon Ambrosia Trio

Sunday, July 2 at 5 p.m.: X-Terra

Tuesday, July 4 at 10:30 a.m.: Ringgold Pops Orchestra (Independence Day celebration)

Sunday, July 9 at 2 p.m.: The Ferdie Bistocchi Memorial Orchestra

Sunday, July 16 at 2 p.m.: Jung Bergo

Sunday, July 23 at 2 p.m.: CC Music

Sunday, July 30 at 2 p.m.: The Taxmen (Beatles tribute band)

Saturday, Aug. 5: Inaugural NEPA Latino Fiesta (all day, live DJ)

Sunday, Aug. 6 at 2 p.m.: Jack Mead and the West Third Street Band

Sunday, Aug. 13 at 2 p.m.: Tom Hamilton Jazztett

Saturday, Aug. 19 at 2 p.m.: Burning Roses Women’s Music & Arts Festival (all day, multiple bands)

Sunday, Aug. 20 at 2 p.m.: Phyllis Hopkins Electric Trio

Sunday, Aug. 27: Villa Capri Car Cruisers Car Club 10th annual charity car show (all day, no band)

Sunday, Sept. 3 at 2 p.m.: TBA

Sunday, Sept. 10 at 2 p.m.: The Stanleys with Jami Novak

Sunday, Sept. 17 at 1 p.m.: Lenoxville Community Band

Sunday, Sept. 17 at 4 p.m.: Clarence Spady & Friends

Sunday, Sept. 24 at 2 p.m.: The Music Room

Sunday, Oct. 1 at noon: Honeybee Festival sponsored by The Greenhouse Project (all day)

Sunday, Oct. 1 at 2 p.m.: Gerard Mayer in Standard Time

Sunday, Oct. 8 at 2 p.m.: TBA

This series is funded by the Scranton Municipal Recreation Authority, with additional funding from the city of Scranton, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and the Lackawanna County Arts & Culture Department. It is produced by the Scranton Music Association and the Scranton Recreational Authority. For more information, call 570-561-7584 or 570-983-6485.

The name Nay Aug traces its origin to the Munsee, a subgroup of the larger Native American Lenape tribe. In their language, Nay Aug means “noisy water or roaring brook.” The Munsee settled along the banks of the Roaring Brook and were a peaceful group mostly committed to fishing and farming.

Nay Aug Park was established in 1893. Scranton’s ninth mayor, W.L. Connell, directed the purchase of two acres of land in the city’s east side from the Beckett Estate. The early years were a boom for the citizens of Scranton and the park. The population was growing and leaders had the foresight to realize the need for a place to gather. The city purchased five more acres of land from the Beckett Estate. Scranton received donations of land from the Watres Estate and Lackawanna Iron and Coal, which owned the majority of land the park now occupies.

There was an amusement park located on the eastern side. Luna Park opened in 1906 and met with a disastrous fire in 1916; it never recovered and subsequently closed for good. The land was incorporated into what is now Nay Aug Park.

Nay Aug began to develop in earnest in the early 1900s. Landscaping began and pavilions were built, as well as roads and pathways that stretched around the entire park. The bandstand, Marmi Pavilion, Brooks Mine, and Cleland Greenhouse were the first additions to the southeast corner of the park. In 1908, Dr. Isaiah Everhart presented the city with a museum to house his extensive natural history collections, including a large assortment of bird specimens. The Everhart Museum of Natural History, Science, and Art operates to this day.

Development of the park continued at an aggressive pace and began to spread out over the entire area. Nay Aug was growing and the citizens wanted more. The most exciting and favorite attraction at the park was Lake Lincoln. Developed in 1909, it was a dug out, dirt bottom pool. It had a tree-lined shore that utilized the natural stone shelf to encompass the entire pool. In 1929, a concrete bottom and a water circulation system were added. In July of 1967, two Olympic-size swimming pools were installed. The Walsh Swim Complex operated until 2019 and remains closed as it undergoes renovations.

In 1917, a zoo was developed, housing a large array of domestic and exotic animals. For years, Nay Aug offered the only zoo within hundreds of miles. The zoo has since closed, but the historic building remains.

Nay Aug continued to grow with a small amusement park. Karl and Ralph Strohl, who received the amusement park from their grandfather, operated it until its closing in the early 1990s. It offered many rides for younger children and families for over 70 years. A few of the most popular rides were the merry-go-round, a small wooden roller coaster called the Comet Coaster, and a miniature Lackawanna Railroad train. The arcade building once housed a dance hall during the 1930s and ’40s where big band music was performed. As time went on and interests changed, the building became home to bumper cars and arcade machines. Many family outings, company picnics, and social gatherings took place in the park, using the rides and picnic grounds for their enjoyment. The amusement park closed and the area is now a green space where weekly concerts take place in the warmer months.

The addition of monuments and memorials to veterans and various wars have been placed around the grounds. In the early years, it was not uncommon to see a gathering to honor veterans with over 50,000 people in attendance.

A rock-strewn gorge with a series of waterfalls is the centerpiece of the park. The Nay Aug Gorge is a National Natural Landmark. In 2007, the David Wenzel Tree House and a pedestrian footbridge opened to access parkland across the Roaring Brook, untouched for many years. The first of its kind in Pennsylvania, the tree house overlooks the gorge 150 feet below and was constructed by Forever Young, Inc. with public and private donations, setting the stage for additional tree house construction in other cities across the United States.

Today, Nay Aug remains Scranton’s largest park and historic urban green space.

Photo by Mike Lehman