Posted by Elly Blue (Columnist) on June 29th, 2009 at 3:29 pm
[Thanks to Carye Bye for this report (via the Shift list) on the Oregon Sesquicentennial Ride that she organized in honor of our state’s 150th birthday. You can see her photos of the ride here, and check out BikePortland’s photos from the start of the party here.]
Oregon is celebrating its 150th Birthday all year long! About twenty cyclists met up to celebrate in style. We had two Beavers, some Oregon themed shirts, and many of us dressed up in Oregon’s state colors Blue & Yellow (Gold and Navy if you are picky).
At the start we had a little Birthday Cake, lit the candles and Sang “Happy Birthday Oregon.” Four people won best costume and got a fabulous Oregon-Beaver drink coaster set (thanks SCRAP!) and four Natives of Oregon won special arm-band garters with a picture of Oregon. Everyone got buttons to wear!
Each person put something about Oregon on a name tag. One person had eaten cherries off 10 + trees in Woodlawn neighborhood that week. Another admitted she loved rain. One person proudly proclaimed CAR-FREE in Oregon and I said that I’d been to the Slug-Queen festival in Eugene – which is fabulous beyond words, by the way.
Our first stop was the Woody Guthrie Circle at the Bonneville Power Administration Building in the Lloyd. Dan Miller brought his little guitar and we sang “Roll, on Columbia.” Dan even wrote up one of his own verses to sing! The great folk singer Woody was hired by the government to make folks songs about the new dams being built up the Columbia in the 1940s as a campaign to appease the public. After three rounds of singing, ‘homeland security” showed up and told us to stop taking pictures! But didn’t say to stop singing.. but we were on our way to our next stop anyway. Strange!
Next up was the Portland State Building. Inside there are two incredible glass murals, one of Multnomah Falls and one of Bridge of the Gods. Also in the center of the lobby is a gold ring hanging from the ceiling with Oregon’s State motto: “She flies with her own wings.”
As we were looking at the murals…. A BIG SURPRISE happened. SESKI THE SASQUATCH came out between the two murals! Seski is Oregon’s State Mascot for the Sesquicentennial celebrations all year! I had been leaving notes for him in Forest Park (his local accommodation) inviting him to ride with us, and well, he came!
It was a media frenzy, everyone had their cameras out. No one could believe they were meeting a real Big Foot! When I announced that Seski would be riding with us, there were squeals of delight!
Around the corner from the Portland State Building at NE 7th & Lloyd Blvd is a display of Oregon’s State Symbols from Beaver to Douglas Fir, from Western Meadow Lark to the Oregon Grape. But something was missing! Oregon’s Mascot. So I did the honors and added Seski to the Hall of Fame of State symbols!
Our group cycled on with Seski in a Pedicab generously donated by Portland Pedicabs and we paraded down to the Waterfront and rode lower Steel Bridge to Salmon Fountain. People on the waterfront were so excited to see Seski! When we arrived at Salmon Fountain there were some youth group activities and the kids went nuts when they saw Seski. One boy ran over. “I love you!!!!” he screamed.
We pedaled into Chapman Square where there is a Pioneer Oregon Trail family sculpture that was erected in 1993 for the 150th anniversary of the Oregon Trail. Here we took many Seski photos, and bid him adieu.
The rest of us went up to the Oregon Historical Society to see the “Oregon, My Oregon” exhibit. We also looked at the tromp de l’oeil mural outside showing Lewis & Clark & others. I didn’t know how many folks would show up so I told the museum 30 to 60 people. So they had three docents ready for us. But with twenty we could have easily stayed as a group, but each docent really wanted to give a tour. I first showed everyone my favorite item at OHS, the Portland Penny that decided Oregon’s name. We split up our group with the three volunteer docents and each group started in different parts of the exhibit. I wasn’t so keen on this, and many of us missed a lot of the exhibit this way since we had an hour to see everything. And I really like to go in chronological order. Oh well, the docents were really sweet and loved telling us about the exhibit.
We lost a few here I think to visit the rest of the museum, and about 10 of us went to the carts to get some food and then went down to the waterfront for the last part of the tour: a visit to the Founder’s Stone! (This is curiously hidden off Naito Parkway just south of Morrison Bridge. There are no paths to it, and it was dedicated in the 1940s.) So we had a dramatic play to reenact the famous Naming of Portland story with Dan Miller as the Bostonian Asa Lovejoy and Allan Folz as William Pettygrove who hailed from Portland, Maine. At first the two pioneers wanted to have a pistol duel in the naming, but the audience said, We have an idea: how about a coin toss, and luckily we had a giant Portland Penny! Of course this play kept getting interrupted by random sprinklers turning on us, and then we’d scream and find a new area of the park, and then it happened again. But finally the city’s fate was sealed. Pettygrove won the coin toss, and Portland is still Portland.
The tour ended just in time to meet up with the Ice Cream social on Broadway Bridge!