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Naples Music Festival: A promise kept, a Sunday of music

In an almost surreal setting, with palm trees dangling behind a huge sound stage on Third Street South under a brisk blue sky, jazz trumpet legend Chuck Mangione brought a standing-room-only crowd to its feet as he began the familiar notes of his composition "Land of Make Believe."

At that moment, the 5 p.m. start of the Naples Music Festival — the city's first ever — was anything but make believe Sunday. It was a dream come true for Bob Emfield, who kept his promise to his late wife, Janet, to stage a charity event.

Janet died of breast cancer in 1994. Money raised by the more than 2,000 attendees who paid $40 apiece to see Mangione, Cheap Trick, Arturo Sandoval and The Pointer Sisters will be used to build the Garden of Hope and Courage for cancer victims and survivors at Naples Community Hospital.

The Pointer Sisters ended their performance at 10 p.m., as event organizers had promised City Council members.

Mangione's first notes also were a dream come true for jazz fans from Europe to Marco Island who made their way to the ritzy shopping district to soak up rays, drink beer and wine from street vendors and groove to the sounds of Grammy Award-winning artists.

"I couldn't be happier or more pleased," Emfield said as he walked to Third from the entrance of Tommy Bahamas Tropical Cafe and Emporium.

"I think this would be in the top three days of Janet's life, if she could see what she's accomplished."

Janet Emfield was suffering from breast cancer when she and other cancer victims in recovery planned to stage a charity concert in Naples 12 years ago.

Emfield promised her he'd finish the job. Residents who feared the event would be detrimental by bringing in the wrong element and a lot of noise should be proved wrong by the time the concerts ended Sunday night, Emfield said.

"I think we're going to get between 4,000 and 5,000 people today out here," Emfield predicted earlier in the day. "That's a perfect fit for this street and for the entertainment we brought. A lot of the 'Woodstock hysteria' will go away once everyone sees how well organized this was and how well everyone enjoyed it."

Naples Mayor Bill Barnett agreed. He and wife, Chris, were rocking away to the blistering guitar volumes of Cheap Trick.

"If I talk a little loud at the (Naples council) workshop tomorrow, it's because Cheap Trick blew my ears out," Barnett joked Sunday night. "I think this turned out a lot better than anyone expected.

"They didn't get as many people as they expected; maybe this just isn't the area to do it. But there is no one here who would get incited by Cheap Trick."

While most of the 500 available VIP tickets had sold out by the festival's start, at $250 a pop, there was no official count available Sunday night on those or on the 8,000 general admission tickets made available for the festival. But standing-room only situations greeted Mangione, Cheap Trick and Sandoval's bands.

Clay Biela, 16, and Tegan Condon, 18, both Barron Collier High School students, came to hear Mangione and Sandoval.

"We both play trumpets at school. I know we're in for a treat," Condon said.

The two teens rode the first shuttle out of Grand Central Station at 3:30 p.m. to get to the event.

"It beats parking and walking," Biela said.

Shop owners along Third raved about increased business.

"It's been wonderful already," said Wendy McKinney, owner of The Island House Gallery at 1154 Third St. S. "We've been getting a lot of French and German shoppers in this morning and locals, too."

Bruce Greenberg, owner of Coplon's women's specialty shop nearby, also said customer traffic increased as the event began.

"Sundays aren't traditionally real busy for us and we've definitely seen more traffic," Greenberg said. "An event like this just tops off our image, I think."

© 2004 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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