Lawrence cuts a rug at outdoor dance

Music and dancing may have drawn people to the Street Dance in the Park, but the event was all about community.

People young and old came out by the thousands to South Park and enjoyed the concert and dance, which was complete with a clear night sky and a cool breeze. The dance topped off Saturday’s sesquicentennial events.

“I think it’s a wonderful event,” said Lawrence resident Lynn Amyx, who attended the dance with her husband, Daniel. “You see people interacting more. They’re talking to people they don’t even know. So, it brings that whole sense of community, and there’s not TV. There’s not violence. It’s just a real cool place for folks to be.”

As people waited for Billy Ebeling and the Late for Dinner Band and Kelley Hunt to take the stage, children entertained themselves with long, multicolored glow sticks by spinning them around and tossing them into the air. People chatted with friends. They set up chairs and threw out blankets wherever they thought they would have a good seat.

Some came a little early in hopes of getting a good spot so they could see the musicians on stage. Many said they had been looking forward to hearing local artist Kelley Hunt.

“We love Kelley Hunt,” said 11-year-old Cassie Galloway. Cassie came to the concert with her mother, Tammy Galloway, and 9-year-old sister, Allie.

When the music started, Cassie and Allie danced and practiced cartwheels on the grass a few feet away from the stage.

While North Park Street between Massachusetts and Vermont streets was blocked off, no one danced there. People preferred to do their twisting, turning and grooving in front of the stage so they could see the band play.

Most said they didn’t practice any special moves for the event.

Jemira Ali, Lawrence, balances a sword on her head during a performance at South Park during the sesquicentennial celebration. Ali is a member of the Moroccan Marauders, a Lawrence-based belly-dancing group specializing in Arabic and Flamenco dancing.

“I’ve been to some school dances. I’m not too good, but I don’t care what people think,” said 12-year-old Jennifer Anderson. Even before the bands started playing, Anderson could be seen holding her 3-year-old cousin Christopher Nau and spinning around in circles until they were both dizzy.

Away from the crowd, husband and wife Dennis and Terri Rosen danced along the sidewalk.

“How can we not dance when listening to this?” Terri Rosen said as Billy Ebeling and the Late for Dinner Band played. The couple hadn’t been able to attend events earlier in the day, but said the concert and street dance were great.

“It’s just nice to see the crowd,” Dennis Rosen said. “It’s nice to see the people turn out. It’s nice to have something to celebrate — 150 years, that’s not bad.”