Solana Beach Sing-Along starts 30th season with special proclamation

Dr. Ed Siegel with Supervisor Dave Roberts
Dr. Ed Siegel with Supervisor Dave Roberts
( / Courtesy)

For nearly as long as Solana Beach has been a city, the city has also had its own Sing-Along.

In recognition of the city’s longest-running community event, San Diego County proclaimed Aug. 11, 2016, City of Solana Beach Community Sing-Along Day throughout the county. Supervisor Dave Roberts presented song leader Dr. Ed Siegel with the declaration at the special event, which marked the start of the Sing-Along’s 30th season.

“The Solana Beach Community Sing-Along promotes a special kind of harmony and community spirit,” Roberts said in a comment to Union-Tribune Community Press. “It is that kind of spirit that makes me proud to be a resident of Solana Beach.”

One year after Solana Beach was incorporated as a city, Siegel started the event on Aug. 6, 1987, to promote community spirit.

Siegel fondly remembered also receiving a city proclamation on the first anniversary of the event from Margaret Schlesinger, the city’s first mayor who passed away earlier this year.

“Under the direction of Dr. Edward Siegel, whose talents and enthusiasm are unsurpassed, the Sing-Along program has become very successful,” states the proclamation, which is dated July 28, 1988.

The local psychiatrist and musician grew up participating in sing-alongs in Fort Collins, Colorado. After moving to Solana Beach 40 years ago, he wanted to offer a place for people of all ages and backgrounds to come together to sing in his new hometown.

“It’s part of the American culture and it should continue to be part of the American culture,” he said.

Since the start of the Sing-Along, singers have gathered most Thursday nights to share their love of music at Fletcher Cove Community Center.

At the piano, Siegel provides musical accompaniment and sings with the group in a repertoire contained in a songbook that he and regular attendees compiled over the years.

In the early days, Siegel said, the group had to make do with an old upright, which the city eventually replaced with a new one. Over the years, the group updated its songbook to include songs that span generations, from classics to chart-topping hits, and from spirituals to show tunes.

A special song for the city of Solana Beach is also featured in the songbook. In 2006, Solana Beach adopted the city’s official song, “Solana Beach, Our City Proud,” a collaboration between Siegel and lyricist Lynn Salsberg.

“So many cities have their own song. I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we had our own city song?’” Siegel recalled.

After bringing up the idea at the Sing-Along, Salsberg, a longtime Solana Beach resident and Sing-Along attendee, wrote the lyrics.

“The city song is a good song,” Siegel said. “A city song should create a sense of community just like our national anthem creates a sense of pride in our country.”

The first Sing-Along drew about 40 people, Siegel recalled. Since then, crowds have ranged from seven to 70 people of all ages, with the most popular Sing-Alongs around the Fourth of July and the holiday season.

“It is the longest-running event,” Siegel said proudly.

The Solana Beach Community Sing-Along meets most Thursday nights at Fletcher Cove Community Center, except when Siegel is out of town.

Doors open at 7:30 p.m. No reservations or dues are required, and everyone is welcome.