Powellhurst-Gilbert neighbors host annual party in park

Here’s what happens when volunteers step up and hold a National Night Out celebration, community fair, and concert in an outer East Portland Park …

Mill Park Neighborhood Association Chair – and also an East Portland Rovers member – Trevor Hopper, speaks with the City of Portland Office of Neighborhood Involvement Crime Prevention Specialist and Block Watch Coordinator, Mark Wells, at the National Night Out Against Crime in the Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

While the elevated temperature made for a very warm summer afternoon and evening at Earl Boyles Park on July 30, Powellhurst-Gilbert Neighborhood Association (PGNA) volunteers recalled also putting on their National Night Out (NNO) party during an uncomfortably hot day a couple of years ago.

Exhibitors there commented that they appreciated that the PGNA Community Fair was set up under the tall firs in the park, providing cooling shade.

Powellhurst-Gilbert residents, and event organizers Tom Barnes and Barb Klinger, are all smiles – now that the annual event is underway.

“Indeed, we’ve held our NNO event on even hotter days; but today, it certainly is warm,” agreed longtime resident Tom Barnes, representing both PGNA and the East Portland Rovers group, in which he’s a very active volunteer.

“This afternoon, we have about 30 booths where people are offering safety and resource information to our community, and [attendees can then] stay on to see the motion picture Sing,” Barnes told East Portland News.

Neighbors learn safety tips, and how to access governmental programs and nonprofit organization services, during the PGNA NNO Community Fair.

PGNA Co-Chair Neighbor Richard Dickinson, an avid home gardener, shares growing tips with Jen Nelson of Zenger Farm.

This was a large undertaking for a relatively small group of volunteers, Barnes acknowledged. “We do it because this event is all about bringing all of our neighbors in our diverse community together.

“It’s just a great thing when neighbors who come out here get information from our exhibitors, then notice people from down the street, and start a conversation,” Barns said. “Once the conversation starts, people can agree on some of the problems and some of the benefits of living in this area.”

Is that a bunny under the hat of Gentle Biff, who entertains kids, as he squeaks together balloon animals?

Part of what put smiles on the faces of organizers and volunteers, Barnes said, was seeing residents from very diverse backgrounds mixing and mingling during the Community Fair, and at the concert and movie that followed.

“Everyone is welcome here — all the residents who now make Powellhurst-Gilbert their home!” Barnes exclaimed.

The heat of the afternoon doesn’t deter the band, Echoes of Yasgurs, from offering a cool, nostalgic rock concert.

© 2017 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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