Baytown Freedom Celebration Live Entertainment

Baytown Parks & Recreation Department: 30 Years of Booking Live Entertainment with TSE

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TSE Entertainment books live entertainment for many parks and recreation departments. We find working with them a pleasure as they bring culture, live entertainment, festivals, and special events to their communities. It’s hard to imagine a more special relationship than the TSE Entertainment – Baytown Parks and Recreation Department. After all, it’s been 30 years of booking live entertainment and working together to bring and grow special events to the citizens of Baytown, Texas.TSE Entertainment | Baytown Parks & Recreation Department: 30 Years of Booking Live Entertainment with TSE

Baytown locationThe City of Baytown has approximately 80,000 people and is the third largest city in Harris County where Houston, Texas is located. Baytown is about 27 miles east of downtown Houston with its entire west edge bordering Galveston Bay leading to the Gulf of Mexico. The Town Square with its outdoor ice rink, the Baytown Nature Center, the Eddie V. Gray Wetlands Center, and the Pirate’s Bay Water Park all help to make Baytown an attractive location.

The City has a strong industrial tax base that provides the foundation for stable economic conditions necessary for maintaining a healthy, vibrant economy. The cornerstones of Baytown’s industrial development are four world-recognized entities consisting of ExxonMobil, Chevron Phillips, Covestro and Enterprise Products.

Parks and Recreation Department’s Contributions to the Culture of the City

Scott Johnson
Scott Johnson, Director of the Baytown Parks & Recreation Dept.

Scott Johnson, Director of the Parks and Recreation Department, leads the department and its 65 full time and 350 part time employees. Scott has worked with the department for the last 40 years. He joined the department after he graduated from Texas A&M University and never looked back.

Scott’s department is responsible for the direction, supervision, operation, and maintenance of fifty-one parks, comprising more than 1,300 acres. The department is responsible for over 125 miles of the City’s medians/parkways, roadsides, as well as 65 landscape beds and the grounds of city hall.

It’s also in charge of the city’s recreation programs, special events, athletics, Pirates Bay Water Park, Calypso Cove, Bergeron Park Splash Deck, Roseland Park Spray Park, McElroy Park Spray Park, Pelly Park Splash Deck, Central Heights Splash Deck, Jenkins Park Splash Deck, two skate parks, A Bark Park and rental facilities. It maintains the Bayland Waterfront Marina and three boat launching facilities.

In addition to the above, the department handles the City’s environmental education programs and facilities including the Eddie V. Gray Wetlands Education and recreation center and the Baytown Nature Center.

Special Events for an Ethnically Diverse Population

Baytown is ethnically diverse. The U.S. Census Bureau estimated in 2019 that the racial and ethnic makeup of the city was approximately 47 % Latin American; 32 % non-Hispanic white; 17 % Black; 2 % Asian; and 2 % of mixed races.

In addition to daily and seasonal maintenance operations, the Parks and Recreation Department sponsors or co-sponsors many adult/youth programs plus special events to suit its ethnically diverse population. These include the July 3rd and 4th Celebration, Special Olympics Track Meet, Daddy and Me Valentine’s Dance, softball tournaments, Art Show, the Arts and Eats Festival, Nature Center Festival, the Grito Fest, Christmas Parade, the recently added Juneteenth Celebration and other community events.

Over 30 Years of Booking Live Entertainment

The biggest event is the Baytown July Third  and Fourth  Celebration which normally brings around 20,000 people to Baytown to enjoy two nights of free entertainment at Bicentennial Park.  Dating back to 1975, Baytown’s Fourth of July Celebration stands as Baytown’s largest and longest-lasting annual event. What first started off as a one-day show evolved into a two-day celebration that hosts both local and national live entertainment, community activities, and a larger-than-life firework display. Johnson recalls one of the most memorable music performances from the event being Blake Shelton, where he described him as the Fourth of July’s celebration’s “First Entertainer.” He explained how Shelton got down and sang to the crowd, as well as interacting with them throughout the entire performance.

TSE Entertainment | Baytown Parks & Recreation Department: 30 Years of Booking Live Entertainment with TSEWhile the Fourth of July celebration is the largest annual event in Baytown, the Parks and Recreation Department puts on several other annual or repeated events throughout the year. For the past 14 years, TSE has teamed up with Baytown to put on Grito Fest, the town’s celebration of Hispanic heritage. This family-friendly outdoor concert consists of live music and entertainment, mariachis, food, and contests such as the jalapeño eating contest, salsa contests, and the Grito baytown's grito festchampionships. Baytown also provides activities associated with Cinco de Mayo.

A new yearly tradition in Baytown is their Juneteenth celebration – a two-day event featuring black artists, live entertainment, praise and worship.  2021 was the Parks and Recreation Departments first year to host the festival. Over 5,000 people came out for it. The TSE team was beyond excited and proud to help such an event come to life, and we cannot wait to see it grow.

juneteenth weekend celebrationBesides these bigger events, TSE Entertainment also provides the live entertainment for smaller occasions such as the Farmer’s Market, Brownbag Lunch Series in the Town Square and other Parks & Recreation Department sponsored events.

A 40-Year Legacy

With over 40 years of experience managing and organizing many events every year, it is no surprise Johnson has seen such tremendous success throughout his career. Johnson’s key to success is his prioritizing planning and organizing well ahead of time, all the while ensuring that the parks and recreation department maintains their standards. These standards include safety, satisfaction, and ensuring that everything remains family friendly.

When asked what advice he would give to others on how to create, maintain, and manage successful city-ran events, Johnson emphasized planning. He stated that you must plan and organize months ahead of time to be amply prepared for any issue to arise. And, in terms of planning, he states that you must have a plan for everything so that there is little to no room for unplanned incidents to occur. When planning these events, regardless of size or expected attendance, Johnson has a plan for everything–security, logistics, emergencies, and even traffic. Without having everything planned out, it creates more room for confusion, which can heavily impact the success of an event.

Scott and TSE Entertainment have worked together for 30 years for events requiring live entertainment. With that long a history of working together, TSE and the Baytown Parks and Recreation Department relationship is more than a business relationship. It’s a partnership dedicated to bringing the best possible entertainment to the citizens of Baytown.

Scott Johnson, Mike Black and Lonnie Jordan
Scott Johnson with TSE Managing Partner Mike Black and War’s lead singer/keyboardist Lonne Jordan

TSE Managing Partner Mike Black has worked directly with Scott over the last 15 of those 30 years. Mike and Scott have been a formidable team when it comes to booking live entertainment for the Baytown Parks and Recreation Department. Mike, along with others from the TSE team are always on site for their bigger events to make sure that everything goes off smoothly.

Scott Johnson Announces His Retirement

After 40 years, Scott will be retiring this Fall from his position as Director of the City of Baytown’s Park and Recreation Department. He leaves a department that has grown dramatically under his watch in serving the recreation, parks, and special events needs of the Baytown community. Not often does someone leave a 40-year legacy serving the recreational and celebratory needs of the people of a city.

TSE would like to add our voices to those who will miss his leadership. It’s been an absolute pleasure to work with Scott, his team and the leadership of the City of Baytown, Texas all these years. He has been an incredible person to work with, as we have both witnessed growth from our company, as well as his wonderful city. We wish him well as he moves on to his retirement endeavors.

TSE is looking forward to continuing our relationship with Scott’s successor and the City of Baytown. We are looking forward to the next 30 years of booking live entertainment and helping the city grow its special events.

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About the author

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Louie Sonugan is a gifted web developer responsible for development and optimization of TSE’s Internet presence. His youth belies his incredible talents in helping TSE reach across the globe via the Internet.
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