Andy Hinds | Parenting Columnist
There’s no shortage of family-friendly activities in San Diego, especially during the summer. Among all the options, there is an impressive array of sunset concert events to chose from, where you can take a picnic dinner and some folding chairs, and let your children run loose as you kick back to enjoy live music and people watching.
I’ve been to a number of these concerts in different neighborhoods, and the one I like best is the Bird Park Concert Series held in the little crescent of Morley Field nestled between Pershing Drive and 28th Street, just south of Upas Street. Granted, one of the main reasons I love this event so much is that it’s walking distance from my house; but I it would still rank high on my list even if I had to ride my bike or, God forbid, drive a car to get there.
My wife and I have been attending the Bird Park concerts since we moved to North Park in 2004, and our appreciation for them has only grown since we had our twin daughters three years ago.
The venue is beautiful, of course, with views of downtown and the Coronado Bridge. The atmosphere is laid back and it’s rarely so crowded that you need to worry about finding a good spot to park your picnic.
The music is always accessible, danceable and not so loud that you need to worry about your eardrums, but if you’re concerned about your kids ears, or you just want to be able to chat with your friends, it’s set up so there’s plenty of room to hang out behind the bandstand with the speakers facing away from you.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Bird Park Concert Series. I chatted via email with Nikki Berdy, president of the North Park Community Association (NPCA), about what to expect for the upcoming season. The NPCA runs the concert series.
Berdy referred me to www.northparksd.org for the concert’s entire history, but briefly explained North Park resident Nellie Harris conceived the shows in 2002 as an opportunity for locals to mingle in a family friendly atmosphere at the newly designated Bird Park section of Morley Field. Attendance grew, and the number of concerts increased from two to five. The mission of the series has never wavered, and the musical acts are selected to showcase local talent that is family friendly and fun.
Now in its 10th year, I noticed there have been food trucks at the concerts in the last couple of years, and I wondered if there were plans to bring in more vendors to promote higher attendance and to make this event compete with others of its ilk around the county.
Berdy’s response surprised me a little at first, but then quickly brought me to my senses. She said NPCA was not courting more vendors for the series and had, in fact, gotten more negative than positive response regarding the food trucks.
It turns out that they were more hassle than they were worth, Berdy said, which added logistical challenges and more cleanup for the volunteers. That made sense to me, and also made me start to wonder why I had been excited at the prospect of the Bird Park Concerts growing any bigger than they already are.
Berdy also said the perennial challenge for the concert series is raising enough money to cover all the expenses: permits, bands and equipment. This challenge was made more difficult this year when the permit costs went up. It will cost the NPCA $19,000 to $20,000 to put on the series this year, and all of that money comes from sponsors and individual donors.
The NPCA could always use more volunteers to help, and they wouldn’t mind a bit if you wanted to support the concerts financially through your business or as an individual. If you’re interested in helping out, you should contact Berdy at firstname.lastname@example.org or donate through the website. You can always get more information at the NPCA booth at the concerts.
The concerts take place from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., and the season opener is bluesman Nathan James on June 16th. June 30 is Latin jazz group Tinku; July 14 is Kitten with a Whip; July 28 is Folding Mr. Lincoln; and Aug. 11, the end of the series, is Whitney Shay and the Shakedowns. For more information, to make a donation or to volunteer, visit northparksd.org.
—Andy Hinds is a stay-at-home dad, blogger, freelance writer, carpenter and sometimes-adjunct writing professor. He is known on the Internet as Beta Dad, but you might know him as that guy in North Park whose kids ride in a dog-drawn wagon. Read his personal blog at butterbeanandcobra.blogspot.com. Reach him at email@example.com or @betadad on Twitter.