Lents events celebrate neighborhood’s past, present and future

From the “grudge-match” softball game, to parade and fair, to music in Lents Park – discover what’s been going on – and what’s coming up in the next couple of weeks …

Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman, Sr. Vice Commander of VFW Post 1442 Dale Guldenzoph, Event co-organizer Ken Turner, and Lents neighborhood Chair Dewey Akers, are all here enjoying Lents Founder’s Day events.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Why do folks in the Lents Neighborhood celebrate “Founder’s Day” each year in August and September, with a baseball game, parade, festival and musical concerts?

“We’re honoring our founder, Oliver Perry Lent, a stonemason who came to Oregon in the 1850s to farm a 190-acre land claim,” Dewey Akers, the neighborhood’s Chair, explained. “The town was platted in 1892, annexed from Multnomah County, and incorporated into the City of Portland in 1912.”

Locals win Lents vs. City of Portland clash

Against the perennial rivals, the “Portland City Stickers”, it was Ken Turner, President of the 82nd Avenue of Roses Business Association, on the mound who pitched a winning game for the “Lents Rebels”.

For many years, Lents townspeople have been taking on the downtown bigwigs; but this contentious situation isn’t a lawsuit – it’s a softball game, at the Lents Little League field, which kicks off the annual Founder’s Day celebration.

“This ballgame came out of the Lents Urban Renewal process,” related the chief instigator, Ken Turner – longtime Lents booster, and President of the 82nd Avenue of Roses Business Association. “At times, the relationship between the city personnel and the community here were strained, because we were at odds regarding various topics. But the ballgame has turned out to be a great, really enjoyable tradition in Lents.”

The 98° temperature didn’t stop the game on Saturday, August 16.

The Lents Rebels came out of the annual softball game with bragging rights for this year.

Although the Portland City Stickers played valiantly, they succumbed to the mighty Lents Rebels.

In fact, instead of playing the usual seven innings, the game went nine innings, as the “Lents Rebels” took advantage of the “Portland City Stickers”, scoring 18 to 3.

All agreed that officially-sanctioned umpire, Mike Delman (candidate for Multnomah County Commissioner), called the game fairly.

Lents Founder’s Day Parade and Celebration

With Portland Police Bureau East Precinct Commander Michael Crebs driving the lead car, the Lents Founder’s Day Parade begins.

Portland City Commissioner, and Mayor-elect, Sam Adams, once again walks the Lents community parade, greeting citizens along the way.

At left, the organizer of the event, Judy Welch, rode in the parade; at right, Mike Delman, candidate for Multnomah County Commissioner, greeted folks along the parade route.

Celebration features food, fun and music
The following day, August 17, the Lents Founder’s Day Celebration continued, with a parade around Lents Park, followed by a community fair and concert.

At the conclusion of the parade, and throughout the afternoon, townsfolk quaffed some 60 gallons of ice-cold lemonade, provided by Lansing Linoleum; dined on 1,000 steaming hot dogs, courtesy of the New Copper Penny Restaurant; and refreshed themselves with slices of watermelon, served by Lents Lutheran Community Church members.

Carrie Wright and Mark Urell, are icing down some of their famous Lents Lansing Linoleum Lemonade (say that fast three times!). They’ve been providing the refreshing liquid for neighbors every year since the first Founder’s Day many years ago.

Serving the hot dogs (with all the fixings) and soda pop, supplied by the New Copper Penny restaurant, are Judy Houghton and John Welch.

Joe Ferguson and Irving Gomez, from the Lents Lutheran Community Church, cut up fresh watermelon for visitors.

Thirty community organizations, civic clubs, and commercial sponsors gave neighbors a variety of information about available services and offerings. Giving kids and adults a “hands on” experience of life in Lents 100 years ago, a large historical exhibit called “Pioneer Living” offered activities ranging from gold-panning to bread-making.

Portland Parks & Recreation sponsored a “climbing wall” – a big hit with kids of all ages, including Portland Police Bureau East Precinct Commander Michael Crebs. He rang the bell atop the wall – twice – to the delight of the youngsters who cheered him on.

Portland Police Bureau East Precinct Commander Michael Crebs took several turns on the climbing wall. He rang the bell on top, to the delight of the young people below, who were cheering him on.

Just one of the hands-on exhibits at the Pioneer Living “village” was a station where kids could pan for “gold”.

Event organizers recognized
Akers gave special kudos to all of the volunteers who make the event possible – especially past neighborhood Chair Judy Welch, and Ken Turner. Both work year-’round on the celebration.

Akers also pointed out the “facelift” given to the Lents Park Gazebo. “Maxine Miller designed ‘clouds and sun’ motif, Portland YouthBuilders did the cleaning and structural preparation, and Wes Wolf of Wolf Construction was responsible for the installation. A grant from Portland Development Commission helped make it possible.”

Here, gracing the newly-refurbished Lents Park Gazebo stage is the Providence Stage Band, under the baton of Larry Morrell. (Take note of the American Folk Music events set to appear here in September!)

Good music, and more music
As the afternoon wore on, the air was filled with swing-era music provided by the Providence Stage Band. This concert kicked off the Lents Music in the Park Concert series that runs through September – this year, produced in cooperation with the Portland FolkMusic Society.

But the fun isn’t over yet!

Coming up on September 7, at 3:00 p.m., there will be a free concert at the Lents Park Gazebo (SE 92nd Avenue & Holgate Boulevard) illustrating musical Americana, and featuring an all-star lineup, including “River City Folk” radio show host and musician Tom May. Sharing the stage will be Mary Flower, considered one of the finest proponents of acoustic blues in the country; LynnAnn Hyde and Stu Kinzel, “guardians of traditional Acoustic Blues”; and the Ragtime music of Henry and Moggy.

And there’s even more. The series continues on September 14 (same time and location) with a Woody Guthrie Tribute Concert (Guthrie lived in Lents, writing music for the BPA, in 1941) featuring The Wanderers – Murlin Allen, Ken Vigil, Joe Seamons, and Renegade Minstrels.

With the stability provided by increased home ownership in the neighborhood, more businesses moving into the area, and now the possibility of professional minor-league baseball coming to Lents – it looks like neighbors in Lents can now look forward to a bright future as much as they have been looking back on a storied past.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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