For many, coming to Belle Isle on a sunny June day brought back memories of coming to the fabled island park.

But for everyone, the Oakmont Picnic was a good opportunity for residents of all eight Oakmont communities to come together for a great time.

Rosemary of Oakmont Rochester recalled coming to Belle Isle as a youngster.

“I think I was 5 years old. I was chaperoning my aunt. My grandmother wouldn’t let her out of the house without someone with her,” she joked. “I remember my mother saying she learned how to drive here. So I love the history of the island. I love the history of Detroit.

“This used to be called Hog Island when the Native Americans were here.  At one time, it used to have one of the largest orchid exhibits in Detroit. It was very beautiful. It’s great to see it come alive again.”

Belle Isle: Buses, burgers and BBQ fun

Buses brought all the residents to the pavilion near the Aquarium and the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory. There, everyone gathered for a catered cookout with hot dogs, burgers and a plethora of other goodies you’d find at a great summer picnic.

“I’m really enjoying it,” said Huey, from Oakmont Parkway. “It’s a very nice day for this. And, it doesn’t cost any more to come here, so it’s a really good deal. I think it’s great.”

Aside from the food, there was plenty of entertainment provided by Jeffery Cavataio. He’s a familiar face to Oakmont residents, as he often performs at several of the properties. He kept the crowd of well over 100 residents entertained, performing hits from the 1950s and 60s, as well as a few current musical standards.

Not only did he have the residents up and dancing, but he also performed a number with a pair of Oakmont activity directors – Charlotte Collins from Rochester and Marie Rumbley from Northville.

“I love coming out and performing with our friends,” Jeff said. “This day is a lot of fun.”

A perfect day to enjoy, explore Belle Isle

Some of the residents took advantage of the bright sun and cool breeze by participating in various activities. Jan, from Oakmont Manor, tried her hand and bocce ball and a golf putting game. A longtime golfer, Jan laughed at her efforts of chipping out of the long grass.

“I was a golfer once,” Jan joked. “It’s been a couple of years. This is a fun day. We’ve never done this before, where all the Oakmont buildings came together for a big picnic. It’s lots of fun. We came here last year, a picnic with Oakmont Manor. But now it’s much bigger.

“It was nice to see how Belle Isle has changed over the years. A lot of people who came here, who grew up in the Detroit area, were telling us how you used to have to take a tunnel under the road (East Jefferson) to get here.”

Ted and Mary had the look of a couple of lovebirds, walking around the park together. They have been married for 60 years and resided in Warren before moving to Oakmont Manor.

They found a sunny bench and reflected on memories.

“It’s been many years since we’ve been here, but we used to come every once in a while,” Mary said. “This is a nice change of pace. We’re having fun.”

“It’s good to be out in the fresh air,” Ted added.

Mary and Ted enjoy staying active, so they enjoyed much about getting to Belle Isle.

“I like the exercise classes,” Mary said. “We have them three times a week and I love going. And Ted likes to play cards and golf. So we stay busy.”