Our Very Classy Pop-Up Picnic, or Alternatively, The Time We Were Almost Eaten By A Bear

So I trust that everyone had a good weekend, right?

We here in the House of Quirk actually did something other than our usual weekend routine, ie spend the evening watching tv in our pjs.  We actually got all dressed up and attended a pop-up picnic at World's Fair Park on Saturday night.  (I know! With other people and everything!  And some people that we didn't even know!  Which would technically make them strangers!  For several hours!  Over dinner!)

(It's like we were body-snatched by party-going extroverts!)

(Extroverts that use a lot of exclamation points!)

Anyway, the downtown YMCA was doing a fundraiser by hosting a "dinner in white" pop-up picnic. (What makes it a pop-up picnic instead of just a regular picnic is that no one knows the exact location of the event until about an hour before.  Then a mass text or email or whatever goes out and everyone converges on this secret location all at once. It makes it more spontaneous that way, hence the popping up part).  Like I said, ours was a dinner in white too, which means that in addition to eating dinner outdoors with people he did not know, Tony also had to wear a nice white button up shirt and khakis instead of his regular Saturday night pjs.  So yeah, happy camper there.  But he's a trooper, and more importantly he had no choice, so we all dressed up in our fancy white finery and packed up our picnic basket and headed out to the secret location.

(Ya'll, Tony grumbling about his shirt notwithstanding, we were so cute in our matching white outfits!  ZB wore her Easter dress, and Tony wore a short sleeved button up white summer shirt, and I wore a white gauzy dress that Mom and Dad picked up for me on their last trip to Mexico.  Pair that with our authentic picnic basket that someone bought us ages ago as a wedding present, and we looked like one of those families in the J Crew catalog.  Just add giant oak tree and tire swing.)

It turns out that the secret location was on a picturesque bridge in the 1982 World's Fair Park in downtown Knoxville.  And while there wasn't an oak tree or tire swing, there was a big fountain and a rocky stream and pretty lights everywhere, so it was quite lovely anyway.  And the tables!  The tables were all set up and decorated with pretty china and real silverware and candlesticks and flowers and whatnot, and I turned to Tony and was like, "We are in a J Crew catalog!  I always thought picnics that looked like that were just make-believe to make the rest of us feel like we weren't classy enough!"

The secret location for our picnic at dusk.
We had a good sized crowd there, and festivities kicked off just before sunset.  Each table had a different menu, and ours had ham and grilled chicken and broccoli rice casserole and bread and fancy cheese and cold peach soup (which in my opinion is more like a dessert than a soup because it is sooooo tasty).  I'd spent the previous 3 hours carving up a giant watermelon and making hundreds of melon balls and shapes with cookie cutters, but I think the effort was well worth it since it seemed to be a big hit with the guests.
ZB stuffed down some bread and cheese (she's partial to Gouda), but was really too excited to eat much.  (Bless her heart, she's a natural party person.  She spent most of her time running from table to table, greeting people and charming them with her bubbly cuteness.  I have no idea where that outgoing personality came from).  Add in the lights and the water and the fountain and the little boy that was roughly the same age and the party was a total hit in her book.

ZB and her Grandpa, goofing around at the picnic.

So we were very sophisticated and elegant with our picnic party...and it wasn't until we got back home later that night that we found out that a 300 lb black bear had been roughly a block away the whole time.  (Yes, you read that correctly.  Somehow a fully grown black bear wandered down from his mountain home and into downtown Knoxville where he sauntered around the UT campus A BLOCK AWAY FROM OUR PICNIC FULL OF EASILY ACCESSIBLE AND POORLY DEFENDED FOOD.  Who knows?  Maybe he was on his way to the picnic when animal control caught up with him.  It's like somehow we fell out of our J Crew catalog and into a Yogi Bear cartoon.

And I'm the idiot holding the picnic basket.

But!  The bear, despite being within sniffing distance of our culinary delights, did not crash our picnic, and we did have a lovely time, and we all looked very classy doing it, and the food was delicious, and we were able to raise money for a good cause.  I look forward to doing the whole thing again next year.

Just maybe without Yogi and/or Boo Boo this time.