Building marching to its own beat on Third Street

James Neiss/staff photographerThis building at 500 Third St. has been the source of marching band music that played nightly for about the past six months.

There's a tinny sound dribbling out of a vacant building's open windows on the corner of Ferry Avenue and Third Street.

It's the University of Iowa's fight song, a 60-year-old composition played at Iowa Hawkeyes' sporting events, which has played on a loop from about 4 to 11 p.m. on most nights for roughly six months.

The winter weather has not deterred its play. Even through stretches of freezing temperatures, the sounds echo faintly for a city block in any direction.

A local restaurant, Wine on Third, neighbors the vacant building with an address at 500 Third St. The structure is also kitty-corner to the Niagara Gazette offices, 473 Third St.

Its owner, Shawn Weber, said he remains uncertain of why the music keeps playing. His customers, he said, have complained, as have the residential tenants above Wine on Third.

"I’m not sure what the purpose is or what the issue is," Weber said.

Neither Weber's business partner at the restaurant nor the building's owner — on the Niagara Falls tax rolls as Thunderfalls LLC — returned requests for comment.

Seth Piccirillo, the Niagara Falls Department of Community Development director, said he is "aware of the music, but we have not been involved" to this point. The building was purchased by Thunderfalls in 2001 and is today assessed at nearly $350,000.

The roughly 50-second fight song clip is, over the course of seven hours, is looped over 500 times. It is played without composer Meredith Willson's lyrics: which begin, "the word is 'Fight! Fight! Fight! for IOWA,' until the walls and rafters ring"; and end, "the word is 'Fight! Fight! Fight! for IOWA,' until the game is won."

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