4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

How Bird Park Summer Concerts made it to 15

"That skyline view with the stage looking over the city and the bridge...”

A Bird Park scene unimaginable in 1996
A Bird Park scene unimaginable in 1996

The first concert at Bird Park was held in 2002. The Tami Thomas Big Band performed. At the time, Bird Park Summer Concerts founder Nellie Harris Ritter asked Jay Turner (head of North Park Main Street Association) if they would ever see a Starbucks in their neighborhood.

“He said, ‘It’s still a ways off, but I promise you we’ll have a Starbucks someday,’” says Harris Ritter.

Jump to 2017 and Harris Ritter explaining how she recently drove by three Starbucks on University Avenue between Park Boulevard and Interstate 805.

A fair amount has changed in the neighborhood since Harris Ritter and her first husband bought a house in North Park for $150,000 in 1996. Back then, they felt like “the first couple to move into the neighborhood under the age of 70.” These days, they could be in the minority for not being a member in an indie-pop band.

Circa 2001, Harris Ritter started to take note of concerts around San Diego that were held in neighborhood parks. Trolley Barn Park in University Heights was one such example.

“I think Bird Park is just perfect for the concert in the park because you have that skyline view with the stage looking over the city and the bridge.”

Once the idea had been hatched, Harris Ritter attended a North Park Community Association meeting and delivered her pitch — they bit. They immediately told her, “That’s wonderful! You have our blessing, go do it!” Meanwhile, Harris Ritter was secretly hoping that “somebody else would go, and it would be their job.”

Undaunted, she corralled bands, sponsors, a stage, and the first concert in Bird Park was held on July 12, 2002.

“It was a total success. It was wonderful!” she says.

Tragedy struck soon after, though. The following Sunday, her first husband, Bret Harris, passed away from a heart attack at the age of 36. She immediately stepped away from the concert series that she founded. She remarried in 2005 and now lives in Coronado. Meanwhile, Bird Park Summer Concerts begins its 15th season this year. Harris Ritter shows up once in a blue moon.

“I put it on my calendar and I’m gonna invite a lot of friends to come to the first concert,” she says.

The concerts begin on July 1st. Grampadrew’s Flim Flam Revue performs.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Shirtless at Danny’s in Coronado

A chance to go tribal with the legendary top guns of special forces
Next Article

Tamar Berk doesn’t need your permission

“I see other women do this, too.”
A Bird Park scene unimaginable in 1996
A Bird Park scene unimaginable in 1996

The first concert at Bird Park was held in 2002. The Tami Thomas Big Band performed. At the time, Bird Park Summer Concerts founder Nellie Harris Ritter asked Jay Turner (head of North Park Main Street Association) if they would ever see a Starbucks in their neighborhood.

“He said, ‘It’s still a ways off, but I promise you we’ll have a Starbucks someday,’” says Harris Ritter.

Jump to 2017 and Harris Ritter explaining how she recently drove by three Starbucks on University Avenue between Park Boulevard and Interstate 805.

A fair amount has changed in the neighborhood since Harris Ritter and her first husband bought a house in North Park for $150,000 in 1996. Back then, they felt like “the first couple to move into the neighborhood under the age of 70.” These days, they could be in the minority for not being a member in an indie-pop band.

Circa 2001, Harris Ritter started to take note of concerts around San Diego that were held in neighborhood parks. Trolley Barn Park in University Heights was one such example.

“I think Bird Park is just perfect for the concert in the park because you have that skyline view with the stage looking over the city and the bridge.”

Once the idea had been hatched, Harris Ritter attended a North Park Community Association meeting and delivered her pitch — they bit. They immediately told her, “That’s wonderful! You have our blessing, go do it!” Meanwhile, Harris Ritter was secretly hoping that “somebody else would go, and it would be their job.”

Undaunted, she corralled bands, sponsors, a stage, and the first concert in Bird Park was held on July 12, 2002.

“It was a total success. It was wonderful!” she says.

Tragedy struck soon after, though. The following Sunday, her first husband, Bret Harris, passed away from a heart attack at the age of 36. She immediately stepped away from the concert series that she founded. She remarried in 2005 and now lives in Coronado. Meanwhile, Bird Park Summer Concerts begins its 15th season this year. Harris Ritter shows up once in a blue moon.

“I put it on my calendar and I’m gonna invite a lot of friends to come to the first concert,” she says.

The concerts begin on July 1st. Grampadrew’s Flim Flam Revue performs.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Shirtless at Danny’s in Coronado

A chance to go tribal with the legendary top guns of special forces
Next Article

A lesson in spices at Ban Lao Cuisine

“It’s about heat, but also taste.”
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories Fishing Report — What’s getting hooked from ship and shore From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Outdoors — Weekly changes in flora and fauna Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Street Style — San Diego streets have style Surf Diego — Real stories from those braving the waves Theater — On stage in San Diego this week Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close