East Portland Community Parade tradition marches on

See how hundreds of kids and adults welcomed in the Independence Day weekend at the East Portland Community Center …

Hundreds of families come out ready to enjoy the Independence Day Community Parade at the East Portland Community Center.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Unless it falls on a weekend, July 3rd is the date for a long-standing tradition in outer East Portland – the Independence Day Community Parade.

On that date again this year, families rallied on the front lawn of the Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) East Portland Community Center – by 10:30 a.m., the pre-parade activities were in full swing. As soon as it was set up, the PP&R “Climbing Wall” had a line of kids, waiting to scramble to the top and ring the bell.

Macio Kirven clambers up the PP&R Climbing Wall.

Event organizer PP&R East Portland Community Center Recreation Coordinator Sarah Cooper, Center Director Abbe Macfarlane, and Recreation Coordinator Elizabeth Corrigan say they’re ready for another fun event.

“Welcome to our 17th annual Independence Day Community Parade,” greeted PP&R East Portland Community Center Recreation Coordinator Sarah Cooper.

“Before the parade, kids have the opportunity to have their faces painted, get [temporary] tattoos, and participate in crafts like making hand-held ribbons that they can carry in the parade,” Cooper told East Portland News.

Volunteers help kids craft “ring hats” for the parade.

These East Portland Community Center Preschool kids meet the Parks Bureau mascot, Wally Gator.

“Then, about 11:30 a.m., we start to line up the parade,” Cooper continued. “Even though it just goes for a few blocks through the neighborhood, it features a Portland Police and Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office Color Guard, bagpipers, the Portland Police Mounted Patrol – as well as hundreds of kids marching.”

At the appointed time, volunteers began marshaling the crowd into a parade contingent.

Entries line up as the parade is about to step off.

Here comes the Independence Day Community Parade!

Providing a marching tune on his pipes is Jack Toohey, with the Portland Metro Youth Pipe Band.

“I think it is important have an event like this, because it brings the community together,” reflected Cooper. “Another thing that is really great is that we see a lot of teenagers here who’ve come in to volunteer. It gives them an opportunity to be part of their community.”

And then off the parade stepped – 250 marchers strong – and the colorful throng headed out on SE 106th Avenue, toward Cherrywood Village, where it turned around and came back to the Community Center. In all, 500 folks or more watched the merry procession along the way.

Again this year, Lynn Haldeman’s “The Oom-pah Boys” play, followed up by the Portland Police Bureau Mounted Division riders.

US Navy veteran Gerald Muck catches a ride with David Callaway, who’s driving his restored Willies 1942 GPW – nicknamed during WWII the “Jeep”. Yes, that’s how it got its name!

After the parade, Brazen Cowen enjoys a pizza slice.

Cherry Blossom “Meals on Wheels” volunteers grilled inexpensive hot dog lunches and served pizza – the lunch menu favored by the kids as they returned.

Cooper said she was pleased with the turnout and cheerful tone of the event. “And it gives a solid opportunity to reflect on what Independence Day means to us, and why the Fourth of July is truly important for all Americans.”

> On our Front Page: Nyah Johnson marches in the 2004 EPCC Independence Day Community Parade.

© 2014 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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