Lents ‘Founders Day’ celebration brings diverse communities together

See how this venerated event was ‘kicked up a notch’ in a neighborhood-wide party, celebrating community and diversity. It all started with a grand parade  …

Entries in the 2011 Lents Founder’s Day Parade line up in Glenwood Park.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
As one of Portland’s oldest neighborhoods – annexed into the City 99 years ago – the Lents neighborhood has celebrated its founder, Oliver P. Lent, every August with “Lents Founder’s Day”.

On August 21, the 2011 edition of Lents Founders Day carried the theme, “A Celebration of our Community”. It started off with a bang and a band – an afternoon parade along SE 92nd Avenue, from Glenwood Park, through Lents Town Center, and leading into Lents Park.

Here comes the parade, traveling north through Lents Town Center.

Lion Dancers from Lee’s Association entertain with their acrobatic and lively antics.

The parade, led off by the Last Regiment of Syncopated Drummers, included belly dancers, acrobatic Chinese Lion Dancers, the 2011 Oregon Little League champion team, bike riders, fresh food advocates, classic car clubs – and a contingent of motorcycle riders.

Officials, including Portland Mayor Sam Adams, Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish, and Multnomah County Commissioner Judy Shiprack, all joined the merry throng.

Mayor Sam Adams and friends greet folks along the parade route.

These colorfully-costumed members of the Orgullo Morelense Cemiac group walk in the parade.

In the park, neighbors were treated to free food provided by restaurants Spice of Africa, El Pato Feliz, and New Copper Penny. With a bounce house, soccer kick competition, art and crafts section with a paint spinner, clowns, face painting, a photo booth operated by Marshall Campus photography students, a “Pioneer Living” exhibit, OMSI brainteasers, and sack races – adults and kids alike found lots of activities to keep them occupied.

After leading the parade, the Last Regiment of Syncopated Drummers puts on a show in Lents Park.

Neighbor Harry Sampson looks at the Historical Lents display.

Hadrian Carlsen and Ryan Estes show their robot. They’re with “FIRST RoboticsTeam 1432 Mahr’s Metal Beavers”, now based in Lents.

One of the event’s organizers, Rebecca Stavenjord, welcomes folks to the celebration.

After welcoming everyone to the event, and introducing the upcoming live, multicultural entertainment provided by Portland’s Colored Pencils Art Collective, one of the event’s organizers, Rebecca Stavenjord, spoke about it.

“Looking out, seeing everyone here, this is amazing,” Stavenjord said. “To see so many members of our community, and representatives of our demographic here in the Lents neighborhood is overpowering. We’re leading the effort to bring multicultural communities into the forefront in our neighborhood.”

These volunteers, from Spice of Africa, serve hungry guests in the park …

… as does Jess Leventhal; he’s serving hot dogs provided by New Copper Penny.

In the Pioneer Village exhibit, David Phelps learns what it is like to out dough.

This is important, Stavenjord noted, “Because, for a long time, activities, events, and even the leadership of the neighborhood is primarily of the white culture; It’s not representative of who we are in Lents. Seeing so many of our cultures here today, and providing performances and food that represents their cultures – it feels great.”

Because many non-profit and service organizations were at the event, it helps neighbors from all cultures get more involved in civic and social activities, Stavenjord pointed out.

Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish talks with Colored Pencils’ Ronault L. S. “Polo” Catalani as he gets ready to introduce their program.

Marc Fernandes and Jalia Lee volunteer at the Soccer Kick attraction.

“This type of neighborhood event creates an environment that is welcoming, cheerful. People get to mingle, and get to know each other,” Stavenjord added. “This provides powerful relationship building that we hope translates into more diversity in the leadership of our neighborhood, and in future events.”

The Chinese Lotus dance group gathers prior to their performance on the Colored Pencils stage.

On the Colored Pencils stage, Mariachi Chapala entertains.

Later in the evening, events associated with Portland Parks & Recreation “Movie in the Park” program kicked in, as folks grooved on live music by Seven Year Tango. At dusk, folks sat down to enjoy a viewing of “Iron Man 2”, on the giant 268-square-foot screen, with a state-of-the-art sound system.

If you missed it this year – keep your eye on our Community Calendar in August, 2012 – and come join in the fun.

Want to learn more about the Lents Neighborhood Association — the main sponsors of this event? CLICK HERE to see their website!

By all accounts, the 2011 Lents Founders Day celebration was a preeminent summertime community event.

© 2011 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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