‘Sundae in the Park’ dishes out more fun than ever

More than just the inexpensive ice cream, see how all the fun activities at this Southeast event supports a great cause …

As part of his duties, event chair Reid Kells monitors the Big Bounce Room, at this year’s Sundae in the Park.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
For 27 years, the Sellwood Moreland Improvement League’s (SMILE) “Sundae in the Park” has been the preeminent neighborhood event. The 28th edition on August 3, in Sellwood Park, managed to outshine even the previous versions.

The primary attraction has always been the 50-cent ice cream sundaes; but loads of entertainment and activities through the day and into the evening provide the “cherry” that top the event.

Brings neighbors together
“Not only is this a great tradition,” said SMILE’s past president and the chair of this year’s event, Reid Kells, “but also it seems crazy not to have a single event where you can get the entire neighborhood together.”

There are many occasions for neighbors to meet, Kells continued, when they are dealing with governmental issues or getting together at school functions. “But this is a totally fun event. In this way, if we must meet to solve some of the problems we face, we already know one another.”

Nealy Wilson, Matilda Lally, and Regan Moore eagerly behold the ice cream being served up at Sundae at the Park.

Serving up cool treats are volunteer Margie Davidson and Claudia Stewart, the latter being the new President of Southeast Portland Rotary, whose members scoop up the ice cream sundaes at the event.

Southeast Portland Rotary’s Forris Frick pours on caramel topping for Eleanor Arango’s sundae.

Event is ideal for families
This year, Kells and his volunteers made sure there were kids’ activities, including a big air-bounce room, face painting, and loads of family entertainment.

“The 2005 census showed how many children there are now, in our neighborhood,” noted Kells. “This makes it more important than ever for families to meet each other. These days, it’s good for both the parents and the kids to know – and to look out for – one another.”

One of the many groups filling the park with music throughout the day, Sunday, August 3: “Doc Normal and the John Borroz Trio”.

Flanked by volunteer grillmasters Bill Summers and Richard Gilbert is Lynne Chowning, the Center Manger of the Thelma Skelton Loaves & Fishes on Milwaukie Avenue in Brooklyn.

Loaves and Fishes focus
The proceeds from the event are dedicated each year to the Thelma Skelton Loaves & Fishes Center in Brooklyn. Even commercial vendors like Bellagio’s Pizza kicked in their sales to the charity.

“This year, we limited the number of organizations present, so we didn’t distract from Loaves and Fishes,” Kells mentioned.

Lynne Chowning, manager of that Loaves & Fishes Center, said she was thankful. “This is our biggest fundraiser of the year, thanks to SMILE. We’re grilling up sausages and hot dogs, and receiving benefits from the ice cream sales.”

The Center’s need is more critical than ever, Chowning added. “We’ve been hit especially hard by the cost of food. Our expenses are up about 35% since January. Also, we’re serving about 20% more people. Call me if you can help: (503) 953-8209.”

Juggler Curtis Carlyle amazes and astounds guests at the event.

Winners of the first annual “superhero costume contest” are: Emma Hill, “Duct Tape Princess”, who fights evil people by sticking them together; Sawyer Hill, “Recycling Man”, who turns wrongdoers into cardboard stand-ups; Maia Rasmussen, “The Sellwood BEE”, who says she fights misinformation everywhere; and Cassidy Hill, “Gelato Girl”, whose opponent is Weight Watchers, and who must beware of saunas.

Costume contest provides winning entertainment
New to “Sundae in the Park” this year was a different kind of costume contest – in which entrants dressed as superheroes, drawn from existing fiction or the individual’s imagination.

In addition to being judged on their attire, entrants were asked to tell what evil they had fought – and to describe their arch-enemy. It was clear from the entertaining descriptions that the participants had carefully thought out their responses. Four winners were chosen using Kells’ “Audience-O-Meter Response System”.

Taryn Wilbert, getting her face painted by Danielle Perry – Danielle and Friends volunteered to help out at Sundae at the Park.

Small, but powerful, Leah Alper scampers to the top of the Portland Parks climbing wall in Sellwood Park.

Fun lasts into the evening
As the day wore on, the fun continued, thanks this year not only to the local entertainment, but to the Portland Parks & Recreation Staff. The day was capped off at dusk as with a “Big Screen on the Green” outdoor movie showing of the recent movie “Nancy Drew”.

On behalf of the estimated 3,000+ folks who attended, three cheers for Kells – and all the volunteers, organizations, and firms who made this event the very best ever.

Eric Norberg, editor of THE BEE (serving inner SE Portland) and member of SE Portland Rotary, cheerfully scoops ice cream for guests at the event.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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