Even as thunder boomed in the distance under a dark sky at 6:15 p.m. last Friday, hundreds of people poured into the Mellor Avenue parking lot in front of Peace A Pizza to enjoy another installment of Frederick Road Fridays in Catonsville.
About 7:30 p.m., the sky opened up and rain began to pour, cutting The Players Band's time on stage an hour short.
But as the annual summer concert series reached its halfway point of the season, the response to its move across Frederick Road from its original location on Egges Lane to the Shops at Mellor has been positive.
Despite the unpredictable weather on July 19. the new venue was bustling. In addition to the free music, the new site has room for a variety of tents, representing the Greater Catonsville Chamber of Commerce, Cosmic Comix, Farmers Insurance and Scittino's Italian Market, among others.
Heavy Seas Beer and a variety of wines are available for purchase and consumption within the event area. Catonsville area nonprofits staff the stand, in exchange for a percentage of the proceeds.
Attendees also have a chance to admire and bid on more than 20 Adirondack chairs sponsored by local businesses and painted by local artists as a chamber fundraiser.
The Catonsville Celebrations Committee was the nonprofit assigned to selling the beer and wine Friday night — the group's second appearance this summer — and DyAnn Moree, a director of the committee, said it was a fundraising opportunity to pay for Catonsville's annual Fourth of July parade and fireworks.
"We're really grateful," Moree said. "The chamber has always been awesome with us."
They made about $1,500 from beer sales on June 28, their first night working the event, and about $300 in tips from the community, Moree said.
After setting up the stage, the beer truck, wine table and all the tents, the group's volunteers then have to break it all down at the end of the night, she said.
"We really do work it hard," she said.
Maryland Search and Rescue will be the nonprofit volunteering this Friday during the performance by One Flight Up.
Catonsville resident Heidi Barth was at the event Friday with her husband, Todd Barth, and their 7-year-old daughter, Patricia Barth, who was front and center dancing with her friends while the band played reggae music over the speakers.
Her cousins, Andy and Danny Schnider, were in the band, on drums and bass respectively, and she said she was really enjoying the new space.
"We used to go to the one over at Jennings (Cafe on Frederick Road); this is our first time over here," Heidi Barth, 36, said. "The space for the kids; there's more for the kids to do -- the face-painting, the hula hoops."
She was sipping a Heavy Seas Beer while she watched the band and said she loved being able to roam around the concert space while enjoying her drink.
"It's definitely nice to be able to get it right here and not have to go in the (beer) garden," she said.
Nicole Dali stood near the stage and watched her 18-month-old son, Gavin Dali, dance and shake a tambourine in front of the crowd.
"We live really close, so we come here pretty much every Friday," Dali said. "We love it."
She said the added space offered by the new venue makes it a more child-friendly environment.