‘New Portlanders’ celebrate at picnic

See what happened at the first ‘Cultural Celebration & Family Day’ – which coincided with the first “Sunday Parkways” of the year …

Streets were closed off for Sunday Parkways in the Lents neighborhood, all around Bloomington Park – making  getting to the inaugural Cultural Celebration & Family Day by the Parks for New Portlanders difficult – unless you braved the pelting rainstorm and rode in on a bicycle.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Organized by Parks for New Portlanders (PNP) – a program initiated by Portland Parks & Recreation, with goal of providing recreation opportunities for immigrant and refugee communities – performers, vendors, governmental officials and guests braved a torrential rainstorm on May 15 to attend their first “New Portlanders Cultural Celebration & Family Day”.

Officials said that the downpour may have kept some families from coming, while others circled the area up to six block away looking for a place to park, due to the concurrent “Sunday Parkways” street closures.

Portland Parks & Recreation Equity Inclusion Manager Art Hendricks tells about the Parks for New Portlanders program.

“This is one of the first opportunities we have to bring together members of the refugee and immigrant community, here,” said Portland Parks & Recreation Equity Inclusion Manager Art Hendricks.

With one in five Portlanders being foreign-born, Hendricks pointed out, addressing the needs of this diverse population is crucial as they transition into Portland’s community.

“This event is important because it’s held to thank them for participating, to interact with them, and to recognize the presence of many of the different cultures and the richness that they bring to the community,” Hendricks told East Portland News.

Under the cover of large canopies, those attending listen to speeches welcoming Portland newcomers to the city and its parks.

Over the last five years, the PNP program has sporting events they’ve called Portland World Cup Soccer in the summer and Intercultural Basketball Tournament in the fall.

“Many of the families here have participated in those sports events and other organized recreational opportunities,” Hendricks observed. “But this is our first time hosting an event with a family picnic kind of atmosphere.”

Hendricks credited PNP Program Coordinator Som Subedi, a well known Bhutanese community leader, for spearheading the effort.

Dignitaries, politicians and neighborhood representatives crowd on to the stage, awaiting their turn to speak.

Due to the inclement weather, the performances where held on a stage, under the cover of an opaque tent. Officials, including Portland Mayor Charlie Hales; representatives from Multnomah County; neighborhood leaders; and state politicians – many of the running for reelection at the time – together crowded under cover, waiting their opportunity to speak.

Not all of the activities are cancelled; some are held under this line of canopies, tied together in the park.

Regardless of the continuing deluge, participants looked content, as they listened to the speakers, and then enjoyed the cultural entertainment presented.

© 2016 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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