- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28—Cuteness abounded yesterday at Market Landing Park in Newburyport as talented youngsters took to the stage during the festival’s annual Kids Talent Show.

Experienced audience members gathered early to find the perfect spot on the lawn overlooking the hazy Merrimack River as the showcase was set to begin midmorning. Budding entertainers practiced their pieces, as children cartwheeled across the grass, young songstresses tested the microphones under the tented stage, and parents and grandparents set up their seats.

In her third year running the event, talent show coordinator Sarah Zannini counted off the number of entrants. By 10:30 a.m., she already had 16 acts signed up.

“But there could be more,” she said. “Some always sign up right before the event. We give everyone a chance.”

On her clipboard, Zannini had dancers and singers, guitarists, and another musician with a unique instrument.

“We have someone playing the ukulele this year,” she said. “That’s a first.”

Starting the show on the perfect note — in spite of the cloudy sky — was Olivia, who sang “You are my Sunshine.”

Talented guitarist and singer Phineas followed with “Simple Kind of Man,” and had many in the park stopping to watch his act.

The crowd clapped rhythmically to encourage one young performer who experienced technical difficulties while attempting to sing her song. And the applause level was high when she finished, in spite of the audio problems.

There was no shortage of dancers, both male and female, and the sounds of “Let it Go” from Disney’s popular movie “Frozen” rang out among the performers.

Opening the second half was the troupe from Kathy’s Tumbleweed, an annual favorite.

“We have girls from 5 to 15,” Kathy Manson said. “We’re all very excited and do the talent show every year. This year we’re doing a salute to the U.S. Coast Guard, because this year, Yankee Homecoming’s theme is the Coast Guard’s 225 years of service to Newburyport.”

The girls had only a week to practice, Manson said, but they learned the routine very well. The dancers took the stage in their matching bright yellow shirts honoring the men and women who have guarded America’s coast and protected boaters for centuries. The strains of that seafaring service’s official march, “Semper Paratus,” brought cheers.

Latin for “always ready,” the tune played as the dancers of all sizes moved spiritedly, knees high, backs straight, as they moved through various formations in military precision to the moving words of the chorus: “‘Semper Paratus’ is our guide, Our fame, our glory, too. To fight to save or fight and die! Aye! Coast Guard, we are for you.”

Toward the middle of the afternoon, around 2 p.m., performances drew to a close as the sun broke through the clouds.

“I absolutely love this event. The stuff they do is amazing,” Zannini said. “There are no losers here. Everyone gets a prize, and everyone is a winner.”

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(c)2015 The Daily News of Newburyport (Newburyport, Mass.)

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