The Savannah Philharmonic, along with the city of Savannah, will present the annual Picnic in the Park, a night of fantastic music and free family fun for the entire community.

Set in historic Forsyth Park, the event is slated for 3-9 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 7. The community-wide event will recognize National Arts and Humanities Month by featuring pre-concert performances by students from Savannah Chatham Public Schools, including Savannah Classical Academy’s Strings Conservatory and Savannah High School Band, as well as Savannah College of Art & Design’s “Honey Bees.”

Thanks to the Savannah Philharmonic’s long-standing partnership with the 3rd Infantry Division, the U.S. Army Band, Color Guard and Salute Battalion will perform. The 3rd ID will also provide their salute cannons as part of the program. The Savannah Philharmonic will take center stage at 7 p.m., performing a variety of musical genres for the city’s single largest outdoor musical event.

 

Celebrating the Philharmonic’s 10th anniversary season, this year’s theme is “Illuminating the Night.” In the spirit of the event, attendees can bring a picnic, or take advantage of one of the on-site local food and beverage vendors, and are encouraged to join the celebration by creatively illuminating their picnic sites with dazzling light. The picnic venue contest always results in many impressive and elaborate smorgasbords, accented by inspiring décor that cleverly reflects the theme. Winners of the contest are awarded top prizes for first, second and third place.

Anyone interested in entering the "best picnic contest" should register at the Enmarket tent in sponsor row no later than 6:15 p.m. Judging will take place during the first half of the concert and winners will be announced about 8 p.m. Enmarket President Brett Giesick is looking forward to seeing all of the inspired picnics, carefully planned in tribute to the evening’s “illumination” theme.

“Enmarket is thrilled to be the presenting sponsor of Picnic in the Park. We are delighted to know that our growing partnership with the Savannah Philharmonic allows more families, friends and colleagues the opportunity to enjoy outdoor camaraderie, fanfare picnics and, of course, live orchestral music,” Giesick said.

Thanks to the Philharmonic’s valued relationship with the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System, the night’s opening number, the “Star-Spangled Banner,” will be especially captivating. SCCPSS Performing Arts Supervisor Mel Whitehead will conduct a group of teach ers and administrators to perform with the orchestra. About 20 educators are expected to participate, including District Superintendent Dr. Ann Levett.

Additionally, as a part of an ongoing collaboration between the two Savannah-based musical nonprofit organizations, Mikki Sodergren, artistic director of the American Traditions Vocal Competition, will perform with the Savannah Philharmonic during their concert of popular and classical songs. This talented soprano won the Gold Medal at the 2014 ATC, taking the Ben Tucker Jazz Award and the Johnny Mercer Award with her.

“With great pride, in 2015, the Savannah Philharmonic proudly adopted the development, production and fulfillment of Picnic in the Park in support of our mission. This dynamic event gives us the opportunity to inform, instruct and enrich the community through orchestral music and to increase community awareness and appreciation for the arts,” said Philharmonic Executive Director Terri O’Neil.

“And with this year’s theme, ‘Illuminate the Night,’ we expect historic Forsyth Park will glow more than ever! As crowd pleasers, the orchestra will perform classical favorites, pops, movie soundtracks, and beloved patriotic pieces. Join us for moments of serenity, excitement and splendor, but don’t get too relaxed. When it’s time for the finale, you should be ready for the cannons!”

Since its inception over 30 years ago, Picnic in the Park has served as one of Savannah’s most popular and well-attended community events. Over 18,000 people are expected to enjoy this year’s festivities, which are free and open to the public. Along with the musical performances, food and beverage vendors — which this year will include the addition of food trucks — Picnic in the Park will also unveil some exciting new digital effects.

Only pre-approved food trucks, vendors and companies will be allowed to participate. Access to Drayton Street and parking will be very limited, so people should refer to the Philharmonic’s website for more information.

For more information about Picnic in the Park, call 912-232-6002, visit savannahphilharmonic.org, email info@savannahphilharmonic.org or find the Facebook event page.