Music and play delight ‘Li’l Lentils’ tots

Find out how this unique family fun program keeps drawing in big crowds, in Lents …

Playing, singing and dancing to the tunes of Red Yarn, families enjoy another Saturday morning “play date” in Lents Town Center.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Folks living in the Lents area tend to be resourceful; they’ve started a Tool Library, held an annual Street Fair, and helped foster a better environment by starting the Green Lents organization.

When some families with young kids found few fun things to do near home, they got together and formed Li’l Lentils.

Co-organizer Rebecca Stavenjord smiles, as she watches the fun and energy at a March gathering of Li’l Lentils.

“Becca Binford and her family, and my family, have both lived here for over 10 years and we both have little kids the same age,” explained co-founder Rebecca Stavenjord.

“We got tired of having to pack our kids up and go across town for family entertainment,” Stavenjord told East Portland News. “We talked other families, found that there was a need for this, and so Becca and I started the idea of putting on a Saturday morning event.”

Juliya Gudev “dances” with Joseph Gudev at this Li’l Lentils event.

Storyteller and musician Andy Furgeson, performing as “Red Yarn”, says he enjoys playing for such a receptive and enthusiastic audience.

After the Holidays, in January they approached the owners of “Fruit Face”, on the corner of SE 92nd Avenue and SE Foster Road, about hosting this. “They let us come in an hour before their regular opening time, as a private event,” Stavenjord explained. They have since changed their business model, and provided more time on Saturdays, so we’re able to run it larger and longer, now.”

There was clearly pent-up demand, she said. “At our very first one, we had 65 people show up, all promoted by word of mouth, and a Facebook page. It’s great, because people are coming from all over the metro area.”

With many of them dressed in party costumes, these Li’l Lentils express their joy by dancing and singing.

The best part of it for her, Stavenjord said, is “It’s amazing to see our neighborhood come together. We are definitely meeting a need for families.

“All of our lives are really busy,” Stavenjord said. “This is an opportunity to take a break, share music, and have a bonding event with their kids. It provides social-emotional development for our kids and a relaxing time for families. We get to build a greater sense of community with it.”

At the “bar” are Harper Paramchuk, Rebecca Stavenjord, Jeff Paramchuk, Dawn Lowe-Wincentsen, and Madeline Lowe.

And, they’re getting ready for the big outer East Portland parade in April. “We have a special edition coming up on April 25, in partnership with the 82nd of Avenue of Roses Parade. Join us at Eastport Plaza and be part of our ‘mobile concert’ during the parade,” Stavenjord invited. “We look forward to bringing our performers, and all of this energy, to the 82nd Avenue of Roses Parade!”

Li’l Lentils currently meets every Saturday, from 10 a.m. until 12 noon at 9201 SE Foster Road, 97266. For more information, see their website: CLICK HERE; or their Facebook page: CLICK HERE.

© 2015 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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