Solivita will host the first annual Music and Picnic in the Park event on Nov. 5. (Photo by Michael Freeman).

POINCIANA – As an active adult community, the Solivita development in Poinciana has a lot of retirees who have had solid professional careers over the past few decades – and that includes some brilliant musicians, said Pam Paulson.
“We are an adult community, but quite a few people are not retired,” said Paulson, who lives at Solivita on the Polk County side of Poinciana. “A lot of us still work, and the skills that people have here are just amazing, astronomical.”
Paulson is the director of the Solivita Hand Chime Choir, a group of musicians at the development who decided to assemble a choir and start rehearsing and performing together.
“We have been playing for about a year and a half,” she said. “Everyone is welcome to play, whether you read music or not. In our group, we do have some very talented musicians — we have concert musicians and even some doctors. It’s amazing how talented some of them are. Everyone is very dedicated. The ladies love to play, and now we’ve dragged six men into it. Our drummer, Don Hall, has played thirty years in fife drums and the Bugle Corp in New York.”
The choir has performed a few times for their fellow Solivita residents, she noted.
“We’ve played in the Solivita ballroom for our Christmas program last year,” she said.
Now, they plan to perform again, this time on a larger scale, and at a brand new event: the first annual Music and Picnic in the Park, which will be held on Saturday, Nov. 5, at 1 p.m. As Solivita residents relax on the grounds of Freedom Park at the Wimbleton Pavilion in Solivita for a picnic, the choir will be performing songs – including introducing the number “Poinciana-Song of the Tree” during this event.
“We have been working hard on this beautiful song, plus several other songs,” Paulson said. “And there will also be four other groups playing during the afternoon. It’s free and everyone is welcome.”
People are encouraged to brings chairs, blankets and a picnic basket filled with food and drink so they can fully enjoy this pleasant afternoon, she said.
“It’s going to be our first picnic in Solivita,” Paulson said. “I think we definitely will make this an annual event. I came up with the idea, and altogether we thought, ‘Let’s have a picnic in the park and we’ll all play.’ The groups in this community love to play for each other. It’s very fun.”
Paulson also loves the song “Poinciana,” written by Henry Bernier and Nat Simon, and first used in the 1952 film “Dreamboat” and again in the 1995 movie “The Bridges of Madison County.” It’s become a standard, covered by such artists as Percy Faith, Vic Damone, Johnny Mathis, and the Four Freshmen.
It was introduced to the choir by Solivita resident Fernando Valverde, who is also a member of the civic group Poinciana Residents for Smart Change, which is working to improve the community — and that includes making everyone in Poinciana more proud of the community’s heritage. Valverde has wanted to introduce the song to the local schools so it can be taught to the students, and he was just as eager to see the choir perform it at this first annual picnic event. He said he hopes the picnic attracts a great crowd of Solivita residents.
“Let’s enjoy the nice weather and friends,” Valverde said. “The first part of the schedule features 30 residents, members of the Solivita Hand Chime Choir, and four other musical groups will play favorite songs for your listening pleasure during the afternoon.”
Paulson said she was so pleased that Valverde had introduced her to “Poinciana-Song of the Tree,” which she also hopes will eventually become the community’s official theme song.
“We love it,” she said. “Fernando had asked that we learn and play this new song, which they’re trying to make our official community song. It’s very pretty. We had never played it before. It will be the first time the ‘Poinciana-Song of the Tree’ will be played in the community.”
Paulson said she’s hopeful that the choir can do justice to the song. Paulson said they’re rehearsing, hoping the audience enjoys their work next month.
“The funny thing about our hand choir, most of the ladies do not read music,” she said. “I’m hoping Fernando is not expecting miracles. We’ll do the best we can.”

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