Portland Rose Festival’s first major event honors revitalization of the ‘Avenue of Roses’

Led off by Mayor Tom Potter, the parade some people thought would never happen‚ but did‚ was one that everyone enjoyed. In addition to seeing fun photos, learn about the dedicated group of volunteers whose diligent work turned this dream into a reality‚

The first parade of the 2007 Portland Rose Festival is lead by the VFW Post 1442 Honor Guard and by the Grand Marshal, Portland’s Mayor Tom Potter.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
As recently as a couple of years ago, no one would have guessed that the first sanctioned event of the Portland Rose Festival’s centennial year would be a parade along 82nd Avenue.

But, against all odds, dedicated volunteers from three neighborhood business districts and six neighborhood associations saw their big dream turn into reality on April 28.

2007 Portland Rose Festival Princesses gather for a group photo before perching on convertibles for their ride up the newly-renamed 82nd Avenue of Roses.

Right on schedule, the First Annual Portland Rose Festival Avenue of Roses Parade started north along 82nd Avenue of Roses‚ led off by Grand Marshall Mayor Tom Potter.

The “rat-ta-tat-tat” of the Madison High School Drum Corps kept the parade moving. Participants included Portland Rose Festival Princesses, Royal Rosarians, and representatives of business districts, neighborhood associations, schools and supporting firms.

SE Portland’s own PEParazzi Squad gets ready to cheerlead along the parade route.

Festivities continued after the parade, with a sidewalk festival hosted by the Montavilla East Tabor Business Assn. and Montavilla Neighborhood Assn. on SE Stark St.

Parade a symbol of change
“When I saw our parade listed on the Portland Rose Festival calendar of events, I said to myself, ‘This is big stuff’,” commented one of the key volunteers, Sandra McDaniel, past chair of Montavilla Neighborhood Association. “So many of us worked so hard, I’m grateful that we were able to create this event.”

Organizing the first parade in the history of 82nd Avenue of Roses, Ken Turner works with two of the parade’s 35 primary volunteers.

As a long-time resident of the area, McDaniel said she was skeptical much could be done to improve the working-class reputation of 82nd Avenue. “But when I heard Ken Turner share his vision at an organizing meeting, I knew he was on to something.”

She said that notion of changing the thoroughfare’s name to “Avenue of Roses” was the turning point that got people to think differently about this strip of outer East Portland.

“It’s catching on. People are excited about it.”

Keeping the parade participants stepping along to a brisk rhythm is Madison High School Drum Corps.

Along with the parade, pride
One volunteer told us of an elderly lady who watched the parade, camera in hand. “I’m taking pictures of this,” she said, “to put in our history, to make sure this is part of the history of Outer Southeast.”

Along the parade route, a neighbor commented, “It’s about time we had something good like this here. People will look at Outer Southeast Portland in a different way now.”

Riding in their very first parade are 2007 Portland Rose Festival Princesses (clockwise, starting from top/left) Chelsea Linn, David Douglas High School; Hong Le, Marshall High School; Audria Shaw, Madison High School and Tiffany Loanzon, Cleveland High School.

Two years in the making
We talked with Ken Turner, president of the 82nd Avenue of Roses Business Association‚ the man credited with sparking the area’s turn-around effort‚ about the parade.

“About two years ago,” Turner began, “our group of volunteers was looking for ideas, and perhaps events that would help band together neighborhoods and businesses along the avenue. Along with developing the Avenue of Roses concept‚ including beautification, reducing crime, and giving our area a good identity‚ we came up with the idea of a parade.”

Turner said the idea “got legs” a year ago, and the volunteers filed for the parade permit last fall.

Ruth Hander, chair of Madison South Neighborhood Association, catches a ride with Reid Trumel.

A true grassroots effort
The parade, we learned, was a community-driven and directed event. Turner said, “We, about 35 key volunteers, spent hundreds of hours to make this happen. We did it on our own‚ working against tremendous odds. Our volunteers stayed with it right through to the end‚ actually, right till the beginning of the parade.”

Turner would himself take little credit for the parade’s success. “People talk about how neighbors and businesspeople should work together. The Avenue of Roses parade is an example of volunteers actually doing it. We had folks from three business associations and six neighborhood associations working, side-by-side to realize this event. They all took ownership of producing an event that builds pride in our part of outer East Portland.”

Leading off the procession representing the three participating local business districts is (top) Alema McCrea, Montavilla East Tabor Business Association (passenger in the Buick); followed by (bottom left) Jean Baker, Division/Clinton Streets Business Association; and, (bottom right) Nancy Chapin, Foster Road Business Association.

Nattily dressed in their white suites, the Royal Rosarians greet outer East Portlanders watching the parade.

In addition to the core of organizing volunteers, others pitched in. They gathered volunteers, obtained parade entries, gained permits and helped promote the event by distributing more than 10,000 flyers to neighbors along the route.

On parade day, more than 100 volunteers helped register entries, coordinate staging of the participants and act as “street monitors” along the route. The disbanding of the parade in Montavilla “went flawlessly”, Turner said.

Asian Lion and Dragon Dancers, sponsored by Wong’s Chinese Seafood Grill, delight bystanders as they prance along the parade route.

East Portland Chamber of Commerce president Greg Zuffrea greets all, riding in a spiffy car supplied by Chamber member Gresham Ford, “The dealer with a Heart”.

Parade draws ‘fan mail’
“This is an example of what communities can accomplish when they work together on a common goal,” Turner commented.

For the past few days, Turner said he’s been gratified by the volume of complimentary calls, cards, and e-mails that have come in from spectators.

Johnni Jones, a Montavilla resident and one of the key volunteers, told us she sees real changes happening along the avenue.

“It was such an awesome feeling on Saturday to see the community out along the avenue,” expressed Jones. “And the best part is to see the increasing camaraderie among of business people and neighbors. This effort is making a difference here.”

As an example, Jones notes the new rosebushes planted along 82nd Avenue of Roses and E. Burnside St. “Our avenue is blooming, in more ways than one.”

Local fresh food purveyors — Lents International Farmer’s Market (opening at SE 92nd Ave. and Foster Rd.) and the brand-new Montavilla Farmers Market (opening at 7700 SE Stark St.) — are well represented at the parade.

Contributing sponsors, like Richard Kiley’s Home Run Graphics, help make the Avenue of Roses parade possible. Yes, Gail is driving …

Next year’s parade being planned
“We’ve already started planning for next year already. Our first meeting is coming up in a few days,” recounted Turner. “We’ll take what we’ve learned from this event. We’ll build on the best things, and improve other areas.”

The Burgerville Trolley snakes up the Avenue of Roses, as do fire trucks from Portland Fire & Rescue Station 2 – each entry greeted by cheers from the crowd.

Major Sponsors are Eastport Plaza Shopping Center and Washman, USA.  Other sponsors include Banfield Pet Hospital, SEUL, 82nd Ave of Roses Business Assn.  A supporting grant was received from the City of Portland Business District Grant Program through the Alliance of Portland Neighborhood Assns. (APNBA). Contributing sponsors include Portland Community College, Home Run Graphics, The Support Group, Grace Baptist Church, and Bank of the West.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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