Slow ticket sales for Lt. Dan Band concert at Citadel

emoody@beaufortgazette.comAugust 8, 2013 

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FILE PHOTO: Gary Sinise gives a shout out to all the wounded veterans in attendance. The Lt. Dan Band with Gary Sinise played at Waterfront Park in Beaufort for 74 wounded veterans and caregivers on Sept. 15, 2012.

SGT. ERICA KNIGHT — U.S. Army

— The main organizer of the Lt. Dan Band Concert is reporting slow sales for the Sept. 14 show at The Citadel, but a cancellation is not inevitable, he said.

Steve Danyluk, founder of the Independence Fund that conducts the Lt. Dan Weekend to raise money for wounded veterans, said the group is starting a big push for ticket sales to make sure the show, which was moved this year from Beaufort to Charleston, goes on.

Events associated with the weekend festival, which include a golf tournament and other fundraisers, were held in or near Beaufort County in each of its first three years. However, Danyluk announced that most of the events — including the marquee concert by actor Gary Sinise’s band — would move to Charleston.

If sales are still down at the start of September, the concert by Sinise’s Lt. Dan Ban might be called off.

“I hope people see it’s not just going to a concert and having a good time, but the result of going out and having a good time is actually going to provide some tangible benefits to some wounded veterans,” Danyluk said.

About 4,200 people purchased tickets for last year’s concert in Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park in Beaufort. As of earlier this week, only about 300 tickets had been sold for the event planned at The Citadel’s Johnson Hagood Stadium.

Danyluk said publicity from a column in The (Charleston) Post & Courier this week boosted advance sales to about 400 tickets, but he hopes to sell 20,000. Tickets are $20 for general admission and $40 for VIP seating.

Danyluk has said he moved the event from Beaufort to take advantage of the larger Charleston market, with the ultimate goal of raising more money for disabled veterans.

He said this week he does not think sagging ticket sales have anything to do with the move.

The decision to uproot the concert surprised and upset some Beaufort-area volunteers, who supported the week of events and the cause for which it raised money. They include Beaufort City Councilwoman Donnie Beer, who called the move “a slap in the face.”

The Independence Fund raises money for robotic wheelchairs, therapy and other care for veterans.

Danyluk said fundraising is going well, even if ticket sales are not. During the past 10 weeks, the Independence Fund has received about $8 million in donations, he said. He credits Bill O’Reilly of FOX News for touting the organization and its fundraising effort.

The concert and week of events, including a 5K bike ride through The Citadel campus and a week’s stay at Palm Key Independence Center near Ridgeland for invited wounded warriors and their families and caregivers are paid for, Danyluk said.

Sinise, who played Lt. Dan in the movie “Forest Gump,” which was filmed in part in Beaufort, is performing the concert for free. Ticket sales will go toward the fund’s mission.

“The most important thing we can do for the concert, for the veterans, is pack the house for them and send a message that South Carolinians care for them,” he said.

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