Diamond may play fund-raiser | AspenTimes.com

Diamond may play fund-raiser

Basalt firefighters are keeping their fingers crossed for the sounds of “Sweet Caroline” at their annual community dinner.

And if legendary singer/songwriter and occasional Basaltine Neil Diamond shows up at the annual benefit, they’ll have themselves to thank.

The volunteer firefighters extinguished a blaze that torched half an acre of land on Neil Diamond’s property at the end of June. Basalt Fire Chief Scott Thompson said the fire was probably caused by a lightning strike, and was the first wild-land fire the crew faced this summer.

When a neighbor saw smoke about six miles up Fryingpan Road on the afternoon of June 29, the department responded immediately. The fire threatened a house situated above the main residence on Diamond’s property.

Thompson said the fire was quickly contained and put out, and Diamond, who was at his home that day, came out and thanked the team of first responders.

“He was wonderful – he thanked us, took a picture with us and then sent us a very generous donation,” Thompson said.

Rumors of a thank-you concert began when one of the people who helps organize the fire department’s annual community dinner mentioned the benefit to Diamond, Thompson said.

“He said if he was in town, he’d be able to help us out,” Thompson said. “I don’t know about that, because I wasn’t there, and that’s why I’m skeptical to say anything about it.”

The department has set this year’s community dinner for Saturday, Oct. 11, from 2 to 6 p.m. at the El Jebel fire station. An admission fee may be charged this year as opposed to a voluntary donation – all proceeds will benefit the Vince Thomas Memorial Fund, which supports scholarships for EMT education.

According to organizer Kim Wille, this year’s dinner will have an impressive lineup of local musicians, with or without the rumored appearance of that “Forever in Blue Jeans” guy. She said Michael Jude (of Little Blue) and Friends are expected to perform, as are Jimmy Dykann, Hayden Gregg, Kelly Michel and Stan Brobston.

The afternoon’s activities will also include truck rides for kids, and a chance to test hoses, along with the chance to have dinner with the department’s 70 firefighters. More information will be announced in local newspapers in the coming weeks.

Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is nhavlen@aspentimes.com

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