Gateway gears up for annual Fun-O-Rama

Circle May 17 on your calendar! Why? They say this year’s parade and community fair will be better than ever …

At an organizing meeting on April 29, Gateway Area Business Association president Alan Sanchez outlines duties for various volunteers.

Story by Watford Reed, photos by David F. Ashton
Planning for what some consider to be the biggest event of the year in outer East Portland – the Gateway Fun-o-Rama – was the main topic, when the Gateway Business Association met on May 8.

The 13th yearly Fun-o-Rama will begin May 16 with a golf tournament at the

Glendoveer Golf Course, and continue the next day with a parade down NE Halsey Street, followed by the Community Fair at 111th Square.

GABA member Greg Zuffera helps Portland  Police Traffic Division Sergeant Robert Voepel hold a map – showing where volunteers will be stationed, during the May 17 Fun-O-Rama Parade.

Fun-O-Rama Parade
The parade will begin at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 17.  It will form at the St. Therese Parish grounds on Northeast 132nd Avenue, head west along NE Halsey Street, and disband at northeast 105th Avenue.

At least three high school bands – Parkrose, David Douglas, and one from Vancouver, Washington – will march in the parade. The 2008 Portland Rose Festival princesses will ride in convertibles and greet the crowds along the route. And awards await the best groups participating in the parade.

Giant banners like this one – so big it took all of the GABA board members to hold it up – will welcome folks to the annual Gateway Fun-O-Rama celebration.

Community Fair follows parade
After the Fun-o-Rama Parade, the Community Fair at 111th Square will begin. The largest American flag in the area, measuring 25 feet wide, will be raised at noon by the Portland Police Bureau Honor Guard.

Then, visitors will be invited to browse 40 booths set up for individuals, companies, nonprofit organizations, and civic groups. Again this year, the Portland Police Bureau East Precinct Cadets will be serving up hot, fresh fast food.

The Portland Rose Festival Princesses will entertain at the fair. Children will be delighted with free balloons, as well as the live Ronald McDonald music and comedy show, presented during the afternoon event.

Bicycle helmets will be provided for children, fitted by Cadets and Emanuel Hospital personnel. Although a five dollar donation is requested for the helmets, they will be given free to those who cannot afford the donation.

The Gateway “Citizen of the Year” – Superintendent Barbara Rommel, of the David Douglas School District – will be honored, and musicians from the school will perform.

The fair, which will end at 3 p.m., started with “six or eight families” in 1996, said Fred Sanchez, of Realty Brokers, one of the main sparkplugs of the organization.  By comparison, last year more than 2000 visitors came to the fair, he said.

Democratic candidate Jefferson Smith promotes his bid for a seat in the Oregon legislature.

Candidate Smith pitches
Also at the meeting, the only candidate for the Democratic nomination for the Oregon House from the district – Jefferson Smith – campaigned.

Smith inferentially joined a recent chorus of political voices which have said that eastern Portland is neglected.

Stressing the need for education, Smith said that, nationally, “the biggest thing to make kids safer” is to make sure that they can read when they are in the third grade.

The famous GABA Rubber Chicken award for service to the Gateway area  – presented by Gateway Keystone Kop Brad Sanchez – this month goes to “Not your ordinary bean-counter” (and GABA board member) Kevin Minkoff, CPA.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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