City News

2 festivals set for Romare Bearden Park for first weekend in May

Hats Off to Parks will raise money for Druid Hills Neighborhood Park. Plans include a fitness zone, walking trails and an updated playground.
Hats Off to Parks will raise money for Druid Hills Neighborhood Park. Plans include a fitness zone, walking trails and an updated playground. COURTESY OF JAMES WILLIAMS

The fifth annual Hats Off to Parks fundraiser will be 5-9 p.m. May 1 at Romare Bearden Park, on Church Street in uptown Charlotte.

The event will raise money for the Druid Hills Neighborhood Park in West Charlotte and will feature live music from Ken Knox and Company (former members of Chairman of the Board), a silent auction and a barbecue dinner.

Partners for Parks in collaboration with the Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department will host the event. Attendees are encouraged to wear any type of hat and make a tax-deductible contribution when buying tickets. For details, go to

“This event was modeled with a garden party/Kentucky Derby theme,” says Lori Saylor, volunteer services/special events coordinator for the Mecklenburg County Park & Recreation department. “All guests are asked to wear hats and get dressed up. Every year the hats get more imaginative and it adds to the fun.”

The money raised will help build a fitness zone, walking trails, an updated playground and other improvements at Druid Hills Park. A community garden also is being planned.

“The Druid Hills project came about in phases,” says James Williams, park planner for the Mecklenburg County Park & Recreation Department. He said it is an ongoing collaborative effort with city and county agencies.

“A lot of times funds are just not there for projects like this and that is where Partners for Parks can help,” he said.

Partners for Parks, is a nonprofit group that seeks to promote and enhance parks, greenways, open space and recreation in neighborhoods throughout Mecklenburg County and the surrounding region.

“The 7-acre Druid Hills Park is centrally located. It currently has a playground, swings and a water fountain. A basketball half court was also donated by Partners for Parks.” Williams said. “Within an urban neighborhood, it is rare to have a park that large. A lot of research goes into the park planning process. We do workshops to see what residents would want. The next information session will be held in May.”

Williams said planning parks has changed over the years.

“We now look at multi-generational fitness opportunities. There is a change in recreational trends including walking trails and greenways,” he said.

On May 2 the Mecklenburg County Park & Recreation department will sponsor RomareFest at the Romare Bearden Park.

It is a free community event with food, music, entertainment and family-friendly activities. Children’s activities begin at noon with magicians, face painting, balloon artists and more. There will performers on the children’s stage at 1 , 2 and 3 p.m.

The main stage will have performers at 3:30, 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. The 7:30 p.m. performance will feature The Spin Doctors, an alt-rock quartet.

For details about the RomareFest schedule, go to or and search for RomareFest.

As a park planner, Williams said it’s rewarding to see people enjoy a park.

“When you can live, work, play and recreate, it improves the quality of life,” he said.

Charlene Price-Patterson is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Charlene? Contact her at

Want to go?

Hats Off to Parks will be 5-9 p.m. May 1 at Romare Bearden Park. To buy tickets and or details, go to

RomareFest kicks off the season’s cultural happenings at the park. The all-day event features music, food and children’s activities. Find more at