It started with a simple post on Facebook.

The piano was gone.

The unofficial Rio Linda Community Public Piano showed up sometime in the summer of COVID, when everyone was stuck at home, everyplace was closed, and no-one was happy about it.

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Someone had seen a vagrant pushing the piano down M Street, which was later found unattended in the parking lot of the Rio Linda Community United Methodist Church at 6th and M Street.

Being the resourceful types as we Rio Lindans are, someone moved it across the street to the Sacramento County Library, Rio Linda branch parking lot. Kris “McFunstigate”, aka Mayor McCheese, the Honorary Mayor of Rio Linda/Elverta, began hosting singalongs and Facebook Live town hall meetings at the piano.

But that piano wasn’t long for this world. It wasn’t in great condition. Calling it “tuned” would be charitable. So it was hauled away and the next magical morning another piano was found in its place. This piano was in tune (mostly), was painted a rough but pleasant semi-gloss black and most importantly, it came with a bench.

People began to stop by and play the piano for walkers and passers-by. More Town Hall meetings were livecast. A Regional Transit bus driver would stop by on his breaks to play the piano, and Good Day Sacramento caught wind and stopped by to shoot some video and do a story about the magical mystery piano.

On the morning of September 18th, someone spotted Twin Rivers Unified School District Maintenance employees loading the piano into a truck. Our community piano was gone. The question is why?

I reached out to TRUSD Communications Director Zenobia Gerald to find out what had happened.

According to Twin Rivers maintenance, some time that late evening or early morning someone decided to tie a rope to the piano and do donuts in the library parking lot with the piano dragging behind. The piano was found in the middle of the parking lot, mangled and broken with the rope still tied to it.

The piano was mostly destroyed and the tire marks were still fresh. Twin Rivers Maintenance were on site to take care of an issue with an impromptu memorial that got way out of hand and so they hauled off the piano detritus while they were there.

Two problems we have in this community have met at this junction; traffic and irresponsible driving enforcement, and lack of communication between the community at large and the many local districts. Nobody told TRUSD that the piano was going to be on their property, and nobody took responsibility for it. Perhaps something could have been done to secure a more weatherproof and vandal-proof location for the piano. I understand it was a lark, a guerilla piano if you will. However, if the lines of communication were open, something could possibly have been done to prevent this. Lessons learned. We move forward.

A vocal handful of residents would like to see a public piano return to the community. Perhaps not at this location, but perhaps somewhere donated or hosted or sponsored by Twin Rivers, or RLE Parks and Rec, or RLE Water. It can happen, but someone has to step up to make it happen.

How we respond as a community, how we move forward and what happens next remains to be seen.

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Born and raised in Rio Linda, graduate of Rio Linda High School, and resident for most of the last 50 years. Committee Chair for the Rio Linda Elverta Visions Committee, announcer for the Rio Linda Little League Parade, Keeper of the Archway Lights, and outspoken advocate for the community.