By VINCE TROIA
Bellevue’s annual picnic, presented by Nashville Christian School, the longest-running community event in the Midstate, is gearing up for its 42nd bash in a first-time location.
Using the play fields behind Bellevue Middle School on Colice Jean Road and bookended by the Nashville Public Library and the Bell Garden, the picnic is scheduled for Saturday, May 18. The free event has been a staple of Bellevue life for more than four decades but one aspect of the picnic that has been absent a few of those years will be back — the fireworks display.
Sponsored by American Constructors, the Nashville Predators, and One Bellevue Place, the fireworks will close the event around 9 p.m. The will be launched from the school’s football/soccer field across the street and away from eventgoers.
The location is a stone’s throw from Bellevue Park and Red Caboose Playground — it’s original spot — which continues its rebuild this year. Last year, the picnic was held at the former Hope Park Church, now being developed as the site of a new high school.
“It’s plenty big until we get back to our original location,” said Amy Napoli, CEO of the Bellevue Harpeth Chamber of Commerce, the event’s host for more than 30 years. For years, Bellevue Church of Christ provided parking, and is doing the same on May 18, Napoli said.
Other sponsors include Advance Financial 24/7, Champion Car Wash, Tennessee Credit Union, Spavia, Pinnacle, and Kroger. Local sponsors are the Nashville Scene, Hippie Radio 94.5-FM, Hart Ace Hardware, Signarama, and Harpeth Hills Memory Gardens.
Beginning at 10 a.m. when the party gets started, a kids’ carnival, pony rides, inflatables, and food trucks all return, as does an entertainment lineup that will perform on Metro Parks’ Show Mobile. Local vendors will set up booths throughout the site.
Vendor space is available. For complete picnic vendor rules and regulations, visit online at: https://bit.ly/2FnocbJ . The rules and regulations must be read, agreed to, and signed via the application process, according to Napoli, before spots will be assigned.
Bellevue realtor D.E. Ryan put together the first gathering in 1978, primarily as an event for his employees and clients. It was held in a field near where Red Caboose Playground is now with only a trailer and a carport the housed Bellevue’s ambulance on the property. Ryan brought in a tent and a small sound system for entertainment, and he gave away free watermelon (an annual tradition) and soft drinks.
Over the years, the picnic kept growing and finally, in the early 1990s, Ryan handed the reins over to the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce (now Bellevue Harpeth Chamber). Funds raised by the picnic help support the Chamber office, but they also help maintain community projects as well.
For picnic updates go to bellevueharpethchamber.com and follow the chamber’s Facebook page.