Picnic in the Park returns this Sunday, Oct 5 to Forsyth Park at 3 p.m. with a free concert featuring the Savannah Philharmonic Chorus & Orchestra to celebrate the National Arts and Humanities month.
“It showcases our local talent,” said Eileen Baker, Director of the City of Savannah’s Department of Cultural Arts. “We went for a few years without a professional orchestra and now we have a Savannah-based professional orchestra, so we really want to celebrate that.”
This event, which was first organized by the Savannah Symphony Orchestra, has been a tradition in Savannah for almost 30 years. In 2003, when the symphony went bankrupt, the City of Savannah took over the event, contracting different musicians to play at Forsyth Park. And each year the themed picnic contest attracts thousands of people to get creative.
“Last year, I think over 20,000 people showed up,” said Greg Parker, the CEO of Parker’s convenience stores.
This year the theme for the picnic contest is Fly me to the Moon, inspired by the romantic song recorded by the famous cabaret singer Mabel Mercer, and later by Johnny Mathis.
“I think it’s going to be a fun theme because it gives you the ability to be creative without feeling limited,” said Parker.
Picnickers are encouraged to be as elaborate and imaginative as possible in their picnic designs. The winner of the picnic contest will be awarded a Parker’s gift card for $1,000. But it’s not just about the decorations.
“A lot of people will just bring a sandwich, soft drink, cooler and a lawn chair,” said Baker. “It’s really open for everyone.”
Picnic in the Park Schedule:
3 p.m. – Picnic Contest Registration at Parker’s tent
3:45 p.m. – Windsor Forest Band Director, Lee Ewing – Drumline
4 p.m. – Johnson High School Chorus
4:45 p.m. – Savannah Arts Academy Orchestra
5 p.m. – Picnic Contest Judging begins
5:30 p.m. – Equinox Jazz Quintet
7 p.m. – Welcome – Parker’s
7:10 p.m. – Savannah Philharmonic Concert
7:55 p.m. – Intermission/ Picnic Contest Winners Announced
8:15 p.m. – Savannah Philharmonic Concert Continues
9 p.m. – Concert Ends
Parker’s, who has sponsored the event for the past three years, stepped up to help pick the theme for this year’s event and line up the musicians in an effort to expand their community involvement beyond healthcare and education and reach into cultural act of philanthropy.
“We were looking to do an event on our own, a big event where we would thank the community,” said Parker. “We decided to marry our ideas with the City of Savannah, who already had this iconic event called Picnic in the Park.”