Music in the park

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Merlyn Finley, from Decorah, tuned two pianos—one a sunny yellow and the other a calming teal—that were placed in McGregor’s Triangle Park last week. (Photos by Audrey Posten)

The teal piano sits at the back of Triangle Park, in front of Backwoods Bar and Grill.

The yellow street piano invites people to play in memory of Deb Dickey.

McGregor now has two street pianos

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times

Those traversing McGregor’s downtown now have the opportunity to share their musical talents on not just one, but two, street pianos in Triangle Park.

The pianos—one a sunny yellow and the other a calming teal—were placed last week. Merlyn Finley, from Decorah, also tuned them.

The pianos were the idea of resident Sallee Scarff-Muehlbauer, who first approached the city last spring with the plan to place one in Triangle Park. 

A growing fad, she said street pianos can be seen in many cities around the world.

“I think people will think it’s cool to walk through the park and play,” she said at the time.

Scarff-Muehlbauer’s goal was realized late last summer, when a white piano she donated took up residence in the park, remaining into October.

It’s back again this year, now teal rather than white. A cheery yellow sun and the saying “Summertime, and the livin’s easy” are etched above the piano keys.

Scarff-Muehlbauer said she selected teal because it’s a popular color for furniture.

“It seems to be enlightening,” she shared. “People love it.”

The teal piano rests in the back of Triangle Park, in front of Backwoods Bar and Grill.

The yellow piano sits in the front of the park, closest to Main Street. Inscribed with the phrase “Play in memory of me...Deb Dickey,” the piano was originally owned by Deb, who lived in the Mar-Mac area with her husband, Mick, until her death 10 years ago. The piano then went to McGregor resident Lynette Sander for safekeeping. When Sander presented Mick with the idea of turning the piano into a second street piano for Triangle Park, he thought it was a great plan.

“It’s such an old, beautiful piano. When I saw it, I knew it had to be yellow,” Scarff-Muehlbauer said. “It’s a good way to pay tribute to her. It was nice of him to [donate it].”

Both pianos will be uncovered each morning, unless it’s raining or rain is expected, Scarff-Muehlbauer said. They will be re-covered each night, once people are done playing and have left Triangle Park.

Scarff-Muehlbauer said she’s appreciative of the help the McGregor city guys provided in placing the pianos. The kind words and encouragement from community members have also meant a lot.

“I’m thankful for everyone’s support,” she commented.

Although people are welcome to play the pianos any time, Scarff-Muehlbauer said it would be nice to have scheduled performances as well.

“We would love to have people come and play,” she said.

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