Historic Forsyth Park will be empty for this year’s Picnic in the Park, but the show will go on, thanks to the combined efforts of the Savannah Philharmonic and WTOC-TV. This year’s concert will be pre-recorded and then broadcasted live on October 18 from 5-6 p.m. on WTOC channel 11. The concert this year will be located at the Trustees’ Garden at the Charles H. Morris Center and plans to follow strict social distancing guidelines in order to broadcast the event in the safest way possible.
“The Morris Center is on private property, so we can control access into the venue for the safety of our musicians, for the safety of the staff, for the safety of the public, and in adherence with the mayor and governor’s mandate for crowd gatherings,” said Katherine Poss, Development Director at Savannah Philharmonic.
All musicians will be tested prior to the recording in order to ensure the event is not causing any further spread of the Covid-19 virus. The few who will be in attendance, such as corporate sponsors and city officials, will have their temperature checked upon entry.
The concert will be outdoors, with audience members seated on the lawn at Trustees’ Garden. Event planners have taken additional steps in order to assure the safety of the attendees, including painting socially distanced circles on the lawn. They have asked those in attendance to sit within these circles and to keep their mask on throughout the duration of the performance.
Despite the unusal circumstances, this year’s performance will, in fact, reach more Savanniahians than ever before, as roughly 20,000 people attend the concert in-person at Forsyth Park annually, but due to WTOC’s T.V. coverage, that number is estimated to roughly triple in size.
Those expected to perform (some in their Halloween costumes) include Savannah Philharmonic conductor Keitaro Harada, vocalist Hannah Zazzaro, and Savannah’s own special guest conductor Richard C. Kessler.
Harada is passionate about filling the streets of Savannah with music, despite the difficulties the Savannah Philharmonic has had to overcome this season.
“Music, I strongly believe, is the universal language,” said Harada. “Anyone can hear and listen to music and have an emotional reaction to it. Regardless of your background, regardless of the color of your skin, regardless of your upbringing, you can have an association to music. Music has the power to make people happy, it has the power to make people sad, it all very much emcopasses humanity.”
Picnic in the Park is a beloved event in the city of Savannah, and while you won’t be able to gather in large groups, families can still show off their in-home picnic and scary masks through the Picnic in the Park Mask-A-Rade Instagram Photo Contest. In order to enter the contest, contestants must: follow @savphilharmonic on Instagram, tag their Instagram name in your photo, use the hashtag #PIPMask in the description, and post your photos by 10 a.m. on Monday, October 19.
The winners will be announced on Tuesday, October 20, with first place receiving a $100 gift card from Kroger, second place earning a $50 gas gift card, and third place taking home a $10 gift card to Target.
“Part of what we love about Forsyth Park is that people go all out, interpret the theme and set up entire picnics with elaborate decoration schemes,” said Poss. “This year’s theme is Halloween Mask-A-Rade and we are alsking folks to pick a theme, interpret it, and apply it towards whatever set-up they choose for their family to watch along with us at home. Then take pictures, share it on social media, and apply the hashtag.”
Kids have gotten used to the idea of having to wear a mask, but instead of wearing one as a constant reminder of the pandemic, this mask will hopefully help them forget about it, if even for a short while.