A Harmonica Jam On A Skateboard Abroad Helps A Good Cause In N.H.

Jan 10, 2019

Brendan Hart in his prize-winning Instagram video for the Hohner contest.
Credit Brendan Hart

When 24-year-old Brendan Hart was a teenager, he spent a lot of time at a skatepark his hometown of Meredith. It was (and is) a special place for him, because it’s the Glenn Hart Memorial Skatepark, built in memory of his father.

 

NHPR’s Peter Biello picks up the story.

 

Glenn Hart died when Brendan was 4 years old in 1998. Money in his memorial fund was earmarked for some kind of park that would benefit young people. At the time, local young people pushed for a skatepark. It opened in 2003 and became the “cornerstone” of Brendan’s childhood.

“It was also a way to feel connected to my dad a bit because I didn’t get to spend much time with him. I did feel that connection of knowing it was his memorial skatepark and that’s where I’d spend every day after school.”

Over the years, the skatepark needed repairs, now needs a total re-build. The pricetag for that is about $200,000. Brendan and the Hart family, as well as some folks with the nonprofit Friends of Meredith Parks and Recreation, began raising money.

“So far we’ve raised around $35,000 and then, in addition, this 1,000 Euro prize.”

That thousand Euro prize is perhaps the most unusual source of funding for a skatepark in rural New Hampshire, though if you knew Glenn Hart, it makes perfect sense. Here’s how it happened.

Glenn Hart loved playing the harmonica as a hobby.

“I don’t think he was ever in a band, it was just a, you know, he’d play some tunes and he’d have it on him.”

After he died, Brendan’s mother bought harmonicas for Brendan and his brothers. It really helped keep Glenn’s memory alive, even if they didn’t play very well at first.

Brendan eventually left New Hampshire and moved to France for school. While there, he learned about a video contest from the German harmonica manufacturer, Hohner. Entrants had to post an interesting video of themselves playing a harmonica.

One day, he got the idea of playing the harmonica WHILE skateboarding.

In the video, Brendan’s weaving gracefully over bumps and around curves. He seems to do it effortlessly but he says it took five takes, in part because the cameraman skating in front of Brendan wasn’t watching him.

“He held it behind him so he wasn’t even looking at me."

To his surprise, he won first prize in the contest.

“When it happened, I was just thrilled and I called my mom right away and she was through the moon. Because since I’ve been in France, she’s been the one doing most of the work for the skatepark.”

Brendan says it’ll take a lot of organization for his family and different groups to come together to rebuild the skatepark. But he says it’s worth it.

“It gives kids a place to just express themselves through a medium, and that medium being a skateboard, a bike, rollerblades.”

And it’s a way to carry on the legacy of his father, who didn’t skateboard, but did appreciate sports, parks, and a good harmonica jam.

Hart's winning video: