FoPoers are a proud bunch, sure. But maybe we’re more proud of some of our qualities and attributes than others. I know I’m guilty of being Foster-centric, and often miss the happenings of 82nd Ave. It does form one our neighborhood boundaries, after all, and has vast potential to be a great street…just like Foster. Still, it often gets overlooked. Well, not this weekend, and not today. Thanks to one of our readers, we have a nice reflection on this weekend’s 82nd Avenue of Roses Parade and what that gathering meant to one neighborhood resident.
By Lauara Canaday
Today I attended the Community Fair at Eastgate Plaza—accidentally. My husband had some shopping to do, and I needed to stop by Jo-Ann’s, so after a lot of traffic related confusion on Holgate, and maybe some uncharitable remarks regarding the disruption of the status quo, I jumped out of the car and wandered towards my destination. I must admit, I didn’t make it. The parade was just beginning. Ranks upon ranks of baton twirlers, drummers, and pom pom dancers in brilliant turquoise started the show. I heared a waft of music, saw distant sparkles, and I suddenly just really had to get closer. As I stood (and then eventually sat down), amazed, the great displays and groups just kept coming. Miss Tall Oregon; a dragon dance group; Benson Heights middle school marching band.
Until this morning, I couldn’t have guessed that these groups existed. I recalled parades of my youth and the excitement of marching with schools, scout troops, and bands. I remembered the time spent in each of these associations and my pride in representing them. It blew my mind a little to realize the hours of people’s lives that these marching and motoring groups represented. Watching the parade was like flipping the dollhouse around and seeing what was inside. A Taekwondo Acadamy; a fleet of beauty queens; energetic representatives of a food co-op dressed as poultry and veggies. So this is what my neighbors do in their spare time—this is what they care about. And then I started recognizing people. Is that drummer the bartender at O’Malleys? Is that lady with the dog a face I know from the grocery store?
Suddenly it occurred to me that by watching, I played a part in this spectacle also. The parade is an interaction. It is something the community does together: cheerleaders and bagpipers passed and I clapped and cheered back; a small child offered me a piece of candy. I may have teared up a little.
I have lived in Portland for 6 years. They have been great years full of good friends and memories. But I realize I have maybe been a little isolated of late. Being surrounded by neighbors and families and unexpectedly feeling like a part of something threw into stark relief the difference between lurking on facebook and actual interaction with my community. Seeing smiling faces of all shades and ages gave me some needed perspective on how I might fit in, regardless of any potential monolith of white hipster representation the city might sometimes seem to present. All of a sudden I had ambitions to see my particular interests reflected in next year’s parade. Maybe next year I will attend on purpose, meet up with new friends, share what I am proud of and add something to my community that wasn’t there before.
The parade passed on up 82nd: local businesses, colorfully-masked Latin dancers, a punk rock color guard, a hearse club, and, finally, a long noisy pack of classic cars. I got up and made my way to complete my abandoned errand. On the way out, I caught the last song in a set by The Slants, one of my favorite local bands—hard working, but always impeccably cool. I took my time taking in the crowd and all the booths on my way to the bus stop. It was refreshing to see the kids running around and the unabashed fun people were having just getting together and celebrating a little in the sunshine. I thought to myself that I needed this, but I didn’t know it. I am so glad I made it down to see the fair and the parade. I am so glad I got to see all these people doing their thing. These are my people, and I am so happy for it.