Concerns over free concerts continue

By Conor Mooney

Concerns over free concerts continue

July 17, 2013 Updated Jul 18, 2013 at 12:58 AM EDT

Town of Union, NY (WBNG Binghamton) A popular local children's entertainer played what may be one of his final free shows Tuesday in Highland Park.

Johnny Only has been playing free concerts for young kids and their families for nearly seven years.

Only said he found out this week that he's used up all of the funding that the town of Union provided for the concerts.

Free concerts are expected throughout the rest of the summer, but he may need to charge admission for fall and winter shows.

What happens after that depends on next year's town budget, he said.

Some local residents said they held back tears when they heard the news this week.

Concert goers said they have gathered hundreds of signatures on a petition to keep Only performing in Highland Park.

"I think it's really helpful for the kids, developmentally speaking, but also fun, it brings the community together. I don't know, I'd really love to see this program continue to be funded," said Only.

Only said he understands economic pressure and is not angry with the town of Union.

However, according to Tom Cassin of the town's parks and recreation department, discussions of funding never included canceling Only's shows.

"I have been coordinating and working with him for the past five years and Mr. Wright (Only) and I have always worked out details and we have been working on creative funding issues for the past few weeks. Discontinuing this program was never an option. The Parks and Rec dept (sic) knows how important these programs are to the community and work hard to ensure that funding is available for this." Cassin wrote in a message to Action News.

Cassin added that he expects Only's shows to continue playing at Highland Park in the future.

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