The Starlight Parade

Dear Liza,

The cast of the Wizard of Oz

We are still in the midst of Rose Festival. There are fund-raiser walks, naked bike rides, and rose displays at the Lloyd Center Mall.

But yesterday we chose to spend our energy at the Starlight Parade. As you might think, this Parade doesn’t even start until dark…actually, around 9:00. So we needed to pace ourselves.

We took the Magic number 15 downtown and got off by the City Fair, the Midway area we visited last week. We played low-price, fun pinball (Batman and Hook), getting better as we went along, having a flipper-slapping good time.

In the next tent a group of hundreds of people, old and young, fit and not, in silly costumes or regular running clothes, gathered for the Starlight Run, a 3.1 kilometer run through downtown. There were costume contests, lots of cheering and laughing, a lovely rendition of The Star Spangled Banner, and then they were off! It was so much fun watching them all have fun. The cast of The Wizard of Oz won for best group. I didn’t expect to see them run!

We ate a disappointingly small pulled pork sandwich while we watched Rhys Thomas, a wonderful local juggler (who also uses juggling to teach physics!) do his show. He has major skills and a great line of silly banter.

Rhys Thomas, Juggler extraordinaire

Walking around downtown, we saw a sign that made my history buff heart very happy. The oldest standing building in Portland, built in 1857 at the corner of Oak and Naito Parkway, is being restored. I always love to see old buildings restored to use rather than torn down.

The winners…on the move!

Walking further along, we saw another piece of history, the Portland Outdoor Store, celebrating its 100th anniversary. This landmark at 3rd and Oak has been owned by the same family, the Popicks, since 1919. The neon sign (which I will return to properly photograph after dark someday) was installed in 1946. They sell a lot of cowboy hats!

We wandered a bit more and found the Runners, still moving along. Those in costume were making a noble effort, and there were quite a few really young runners (about 5 years old) holding their own.

We realized we needed a place to sit for a while, so we headed to our new favorite place, Kells Irish Pub. We had Guinness and cider, soup and fries, and watched Portland come out to play. There were several televisions, showing both a hockey game and the local soccer team, the Timbers, playing the Los Angeles Football Club at our newly opened Providence Park. It was filled to the rafters and everyone watched, talked, cheered, and ate.

When it started to get dark, we headed to 4th street and found a place to stand. Portland parades are always so silly! The marchers wave, chat, and pose with the crowd, and have a great deal of fun among themselves.

There were marching bands playing Queen’s song ‘Fat Bottomed Girls’, and representatives of the Evil Empire.

We cheered for an inflated airplane carried along by Alaska Airlines employees. A platoon of De Lorean gull wing cars came by, and my favorite, The One More Time Around Again Marching Band. This group of hundreds of folks ‘of a certain age’ marching with instruments, flags, batons and energy does my heart good every time I see them.

When we just had to get off our feet, we headed back to Kells…not for more beer, but to call a Lyft. car All the buses had stopped running through downtown and we needed to get home. What an evening! What a city!


Grandma Judy

Author: Judy

I am a new transplant to Portland from Salinas, a small city in Central California. This is a blog about my new city.

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