Keys of the City

Antonio Jungbluth plays the piano in Penn Square.

Marty Heisey

Look out your window on Saturday, Aug. 11, and you might see a large crowd coming your way. Of course, keeping the nature of the event in mind, it's possible that you might hear them before you see them.

Keys For the City, the Music For Everyone project that puts pianos on Lancaster streets every year, is introducing the Key Krawl this weekend. It is exactly how it sounds - combining the merrymaking of a bar crawl with the 16 pianos situated around downtown drinkeries. Not every bar is blessed with a piano for people to toast around, but thanks to MFE and folks like Assistant Executive Director Brendan Stengle, most downtown streets are. In the last decade, 130 pianos have been put out on the streets, with only two needing serious repair due to vandalism.

“Our community really takes a lot of ownership with these pianos and it’s a wonderful thing," says Stengle.

For the tenth anniversary of Keys For the City, a team was formed comprised of Stengle, Shannon McNally from Tellus360, Kayla Forgrave of Visit Lancaster City and Colin Herbine, a regional rep for frequent MFE sponsor New Belgium Brewing Company. The crew thought up numerous ideas - including the recent 24 Hour Pianothon, which found nearly 55 musicians playing the street pianos for a full day straight - before landing on the bar crawl.

Key Krawl map

Tickets for the event come in the form of $10 buttons, to be presented at any of the 19 participating bars. For $35, you also get sunglasses and a bottle opener. Krawlers will then still pay per beer, but proceeds from ticket sales go directly to grants to assist in purchasing instruments for kids in Lancaster County music programs. Sponsors for the event include the aforementioned New Belgium and Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority, or LCSWA.

Participants in the Key Krawl will have the opportunity to show off their potentially diminishing skills on the piano by way of a social media contest. Categories include "Best Performance," "Best Group Performance," and "Judge's Favorite," with prizes yet to be announced.

Participating bars will also be able to serve the Piano Pilsner, a 4.8% ABV Bohemian style Pilsner, brewed especially by New Belgium for the Krawl. 

"[New Belgium] has been exceedingly generous and supportive since we started this partnership," says Stengle. "I don’t know that [the beer] was the plan, but the next thing I knew, we had a tasty adult beverage with our name on it."

It's not everyday that drunken revelry actually has the potential to improve the lives of children in need, so on its face, the Key Krawl seems more worthwhile than your average Santa Stumble.

“Basically, our goal is to turn pints of beer into instruments for kids,” says Stengle.

For more information on Music For Everyone and the Key Krawl, click here.

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Kevin Stairiker is a features writer for Fly After 5. He is a graduate of Temple University and enjoys writing in third person. When he isn't writing, he's probably playing guitar for a litany of bands, reading comics or providing well-needed muscle at