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Pike Place Market's piano man celebrates 25 years

Pike Place Market isn't just a marketplace for food. It's a marketplace for street music.

SEATTLE -- Pike Place Market isn't just a marketplace for food. It's a marketplace for street music.

One would expect to find banjos, guitars, harmonicas and drums at the popular market.

But a piano?

To the surprise of many tourists, Jonny Hahn has been rolling his 64-key piano to various parts of the market for nearly 25 years now.

He's the first piano vendor on the street I've ever seen, said one California tourist passing by. Only in Seattle, I guess.

At least five days a week, Hahn pulls his piano out of its secret storage space and rolls it a few blocks to his favorite playing spot, the corner of Pike Place and Pine Street.

And rain does not deter him. He simply places a giant patio umbrella over the instrument.

Jonny's fantastic, said Lori Brankey, after leaving the piano man yet another tip. He's the only one who has a piano on the street.

Hahn has beaten four pianos into the ground since 1986. He's now working on piano number five. His first one was actually stolen in San Francisco in 1991.

As a young man, Hahn did not have grand visions of becoming a musician. He was working at a preschool in 1986 when he decided to cart his piano to an outdoor festival and do a little playing.

I put my Tupperware tip bowl on the top of the piano and managed to make a bunch of money in tips, Hahn said.

He's still making enough money to live on. And he's not just living in tips. He sells CDs, too.

Don Seese stopped by to purchase a CD one afternoon.

I first saw him up here 12 years ago and I bought one of his CDs, Seese said. My ex-wife kept it, so I'm getting a new one.

Stories like that keep Hahn motivated. After 25 years, he has no plans to retire anytime soon.

I can't see stopping it, he said. The market has been a huge gift for me. I am eternally grateful that it exists.

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