SMILE’s “Sundae in the Park” fills Sellwood Park with grins

Here’s a story about an East Portland neighborhood that puts on an 11-hour long party. See why about a thousand folks come out and enjoy this event, even after three decades …

Eli and Will Easby and Charley Boone have an anticipatory look in their eyes, as their sundaes are being served by Southeast Portland Rotary Club members and friends.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
With 11 hours of nonstop fun to be had, hundreds of families came out to celebrate summer at the 30th annual Sundae in the Park at Sellwood Park on Sunday, August 2nd.

The event has been organized from the beginning by the Sellwood-Westmoreland neighborhood association, SMILE, with sponsorship assistance from local businesses.

Entertainer extraordinaire Henrik Bothe tells jokes, juggles clubs and rides his tall unicycle – on uneven ground – to the amazement of his audience.

The day started with music, and good tunes played live throughout the day lifted spirits. The physical comedy, magic, and juggling of Henrik Bothe had audience members in stitches.

When not being entertained, kids engaged themselves taking turns in the Bounce Castle, climbing the Portland Parks & Recreation Climbing Wall, and playing games.

Everyone noshed on inexpensive lunches, the proceeds of which benefited Loaves and Fishes’ Meals on Wheels program. “This is our best fundraiser of the year,” said Lynne Chowning, director Brooklyn-based center on S.E. Milwaukie Avenue at Center Street. “We are currently expanding our routes to cover a larger territory – we appreciate the support of the community.”

Editor of THE BEE, and 28-year Rotarian, Eric Norberg takes his turn scooping 50-cent ice cream sundaes and cones in Sellwood Park.

Isaac Leib doesn’t need his spoon to enjoy his ice cream cone at Sellwood’s “Sundae In The Park”!

And to top it off – and many did top off their sundaes with chocolate or caramel – were the fifty-cent servings of ice cream, hosted and scooped by Southeast Portland Rotary Club members and guests, including a group of young immigrants from the country formerly known as Burma, who volunteered to help out for most of the afternoon.

Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman told us he took his now grown-up daughter, Adrianne to Sundae in the Park years ago, when she was still in a stroller.

Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman made an unannounced visit with his daughter Adrianne. “We came by because I love ‘Sundae in the Park’. This has always been one of my favorite events in the city. It’s a good low-key neighborhood gathering; a great neighborhood event.”

SMILE volunteer Gail Hoffnagle helps Event Chair Nancy Walsh give away free drawing tickets.

Event coordinator, and Sellwood-Moreland Improvement League (SMILE) Board member, Nancy Walsh, said she couldn’t be happier with the sunny weather, the turnout of thousands, and the help she received from her fellow committee members. “Eric Norberg, Eric Fox, and Dana Beck, with other neighborhood stalwarts, divided up the responsibilities and duties this year,” she commented. “It’s really a lot for one person to organize.”

What has become an annual day-long family-oriented party that draws thousands from Sellwood, Westmoreland, and beyond, helps to provide cohesiveness among neighbors, Walsh observed. “This event helps people have a common experience, and that helps promote understanding and diversity in our neighborhood.”

Todd Gienger, with the Sellwood Boys and Girls Club, gives away popcorn, and encourages kids to join.

To cap the day, the Portland Parks & Recreation “Movies in the Park” crew set up their giant, 268-square foot screen and theater quality sound system in the middle of the park at dusk, then screened for several hundred viewers the recent Harrison Ford adventure, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. One movie-goer commented that there is nothing quite like watching an Indiana Jones movie with a warm northeast wind blowing in your face!

After a great outing in Sellwood Park, many families are already marking their 2010 calendar so they’ll remember to attend the 31st annual “Sundae in the Park” on the first Sunday in August.

Again this year, headlining the live music at “Sundae in the Park” is the local group Tall Jazz.

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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