National Night Out well celebrated in East Portland

PART 1 – Come on along and see how the Powellhurst-Gilbert, Parkrose and Mill Park neighborhoods celebrated National Night Out Against Crime this year …

Performing at several outer East Portland events this summer was Echoes of Yasgurs, offering tight three-part harmony while playing classic acoustic/electric rock music.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

The first week of August is when folks come out to celebrate their neighborhoods and fight crime by getting to know better one another at a “National Night Out Against Crime” (NNO) party.

July 30
Powellhurst-Gilbert Neighborhood Association
Earl Boyles Park

These East Portland Rovers volunteers making snow cones are sisters Brittaney Hopper and Kaetlynne Hopper, from the Mill Park neighborhood.

The first of this year’s outer East Portland National Nights Out was hosted by the Powellhurst-Gilbert Neighborhood Association.

“This is our eighth annual ‘Night Out and Movie in the Park’,” said organizer Barbara Klinger.

“Making sure we hold this event is important to me, because I like to feel that I’m part of my community,” Klinger said.

Powellhurst-Gilbert Neighborhood Association Board Member Richard Dickinson talks with Portland Fire & Rescue Lents Station Engine 11 firefighters, who are visiting the party.

Gentle Biff the Clown squeaks balloons into animals, to the delight of children.

“We have a very diverse neighborhood, and when people come together, it helps them to get to know each other, and to learn about each other’s cultures,” Klinger told East Portland News.

With limited funding, Klinger said the party could not be put on without the help of volunteers and sponsors.

Portland’s “pupusa queen”, Blanca Hernandez from Salvador, demonstrates how to makes pupusas, and lets folks have a taste.

“Our team of volunteers – we call ourselves the ‘East Portland Rovers’ – help each other put on our events; we couldn’t do it without working together,” Klinger said.

July 31
Parkrose Neighborhood Association
Parkrose High School

Chloe Stehr learns to walk the not-so-high wire helped by William Dunbar with performing artists from Circus Cascadia.

Keeping things lively, for the second year in a row at the Parkrose NNO, was Circus Cascadia, a nonprofit organization teaching circus arts to kids – and here, to adults also.

“The kids really seem to enjoy the activities that they bring; not only can they have fun, but also they learn new skills,” remarked Parkrose Neighborhood Association Chair Annette Stanhope with a smile.

Visitors to the Parkrose NNO learn about community resources and get acquainted with area businesses.

Portland Police Bureau North Precinct Officer Jason Jones hands out stickers.

The volunteers in this mid-County neighborhood put on the party “so the community can come out together, meet police officers, and get information on crime prevention and safety,” Stanhope said.

Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz spends a moment with Parkrose Neighborhood Association Chair Annette Stanhope.

Portland Commissioner Amanda Fritz came to the party. “It’s fantastic that there are NNO activities taking place all over the city this week; I’m very happy to be here in Parkrose this evening.”

It’s important for the city to keep supporting NNO events, Fritz commented to East Portland News, “Because it’s about gathering together and meeting your neighbors. It’s about knowing each other, so we can help each other out.

“When people get to know each other, not necessarily just those living on your street, we can often do more to help our communities grow and be stronger,” Fritz said.

Nicole Martinez of Pacific Perks dishes up free ice cream sundaes, courtesy of Parkrose-based Pacific Northwest Federal Credit Union.

Stanhope also credited members of the East Portland Rovers for helping put on their party. “They supply the personnel, and the materials, to help bring this off successfully.”

August 2
Mill Park Neighborhood Association
Mill Park

Cooking some of 252 the hot dog dinners served at the National Night Out in Mill Park are volunteers Sally Lopez, Mike Lopez, and Dawn Luethe.

Held on the “official” National Night Out day, this community event combined informational services – a Movie in the Park – and a free hot dog dinner.

“Along with [Mill Park Neighborhood Association Chair] Trevor Hopper and others, we put together this year’s celebration,” smiled neighborhood association board member Dawn Luethe, taking a break from her hot dog grilling duties.

From the Audubon Society of Portland, Gary Gross holds Lilli – an American kestrel – and Carol Gross shows off Julio, a great horned owl, in Mill Park.

Jama Reed and Peggy Sloan offer a raffle tickets in the Mill Park Neighborhood Association booth.

“It is a lot of work, but the whole point is to get the neighborhood together and have a big ‘block party’,” Luethe said. “It’s good to have a few houses getting together, but I think it’s a lot more fun to have lots of folks come together in a park.”

The red-shirt-wearing members of the East Portland Rovers were helping out, as well. Many organizations came to tell about the services they offer, and to assist neighbors.

As at the other National Night Out celebrations, Portland Parks & Recreation set up their big outdoor screen to top off the event with a Movie in the Park presentation.

“We do this to help people want to take more pride in their community,” Luethe said.

“By being involved, neighbors can be part of the solution to the problems we have here,” Luethe added. “And also celebrate our similarities and differences.”

Next week:
PART 2: Two unique National Night Out celebrations topped off this year’s season.

© 2016 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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