Thursday, July 17, 2008

a blanket, some music, a bottle of wine...

...and you've got yourself a great evening in the park! Where I live, there are TONS of free events in the summer time. Jazz on the Plazz, Concerts in the Park, Music in the Park, it's hard to keep them all straight! If I wanted to, I could attend at least two nights of free music every week (and yes, a lot of the parks around here let you bring wine, as long as you're responsible, whatever that means)!

I've always enjoyed these events, and have been attending them since we moved here over a year ago. It's a great way to spend time with friends without spending money, and also to get outdoors and enjoy the summer. I love sneaking peeks at what's inside other people's picnic baskets, and chatting with friends, running into people we weren't expecting to see, meeting new friends, watching kids running around and playing. Oh yeah, and listening to the music, too. Sure beats sitting home watching TV! (Besides, we have one of those recorder things, so when the concerts happen to fall on the same night as "So You Think You Can Dance" I'm not forced to make those hard choices. Now you know my guilty TV love).

This year, I've noticed a much, much larger crowd at these events each week than ever before. So many people that blankets literally overlap each other, leaving no space for people to pass in between. Is it the economy? Are people trying to find cheap entertainment? Or have the masses started realizing that the best things in life really are free?

What's great is that it's totally not focused on spending money. Sure, people bring food and drinks that they've bought, but we were all going to eat dinner anyway. A lot of people bring food that was obviously cooked at home, and even among those eating take-out, there's not a lot of chain restaurant food to be found in the areas around the parks. Where the jazz concert is, they don't even allow vendors into the park.

And I even get a chance to do my small bit of leading by example too. I make sure to bring my cloth napkins and my sigg, as well as non-disposable cups, silverware, etc. And this is California, after all, so of course they have giant recycling bins to collect the wine bottles and keep them out of the landfill.

Sure, I could meet my friends for a movie, and we could spend $50 in the process, but in the end, we wouldn't have actually spent much time together. And when I look back a year, or two, or ten from now, I know the concerts in the park will be much more memorable.

8 comments:

Joyce said...

We'll be doing this tonight! Sitting on the university quad, listening to an old-fashioned band concert. My daughter and father both play in the band. Think of us as we fight off the millions of flood-water mosquitos.

Debbie said...

We now have a gazebo in the town square and often have a free band concert there on Saturday nights. I am usually not around here on the weekends but I have heard that they are well attended. It certainly helps to strengthen the sense of community.

Melissa said...

Joyce, hope you enjoyed the concert! I forgot how lucky we are to be largely bug free here until you mentioned the mosquitos...hope they didn't carry you away!

debbie, I think it's important even for small towns to have public spaces like parks and things, becuase you're right, it does help build a sense of community.

Kathryn B. said...

In my neck of the woods, we have Opera at the Ballpark. We checked it out this year and it was SOOOOO fun! We packed a gourmet picnic. It was WAY cheaper than the typical opera date...

Melissa said...

kathryn, that is so cool, and so creative! I wonder if they'll do it again next year (I'm in the Bay area too!)? I've never been to an opera and have been wanting to check it out for a while now, but tickets always seem expensive for something I'm not sure I'll like (and am pretty sure my husband won't like!) so this would be a great way to "test drive" it!

Kathryn B. said...

Melissa, they did Opera in the Ballpark last year, too, so I think they're planning for it to be an annual thing. It was a lot of fun and our only expense was for fixing the homemade picnic and for the Caltrain tix. Show up early, though - there were thousands of people and the line wrapped around the ballpark. Maybe I'll see you there next year!

BTW, I don't know if you're based in the Peninsula or South Bay, but if you are, you may be interested in Simple Living - SF South Bay/Peninsula. I've been involved with this group for a while, and many of its members have interests similar to the ones your blog focuses on.

Melissa said...

kathryn, thanks for the link! I just joined the group and I see they have a posting for the simplicity circle Ive been meaning to check out for some time now!

Kathryn B. said...

Melissa, if you ever come to the simplicity circle, we'll probably get to meet. Neat!