Every year my goal for the Portland Rose Festival Parade starts the same. Like everyone else, I try to see as much of the parade and people as possible.
You can’t do that from a lawn chair. You have to move, which makes for good boomer exercise.
The past two years I’ve walked the parade route backwards with a small group.
Do it right and you see the most wonderful thing a parade brings out. Kids and parents armed with colored chalk design the street in front of them.
It’s no longer just a place to watch a parade, it’s a civic canvas for their art.
We started on the West side and found more than expected.
There was Mayor Hales, the first mayor I’ve met in public. It was special. Here’s why:
He could have walked off, or jumped in his car, and it would have been fine. The man is busy.
But that’s not what happened.
Instead, he looked at me and joined me for the picture above. I was impressed. How many noted figures do you see who don’t see you? All of them?
I met a big league baseball player once who seemed like a good guy. It was a hello in the gym deal, but he mistook me for a fan. How many fans do utility outfielders for the Cleveland Indians have in Beaverton?
He went Big League soon enough, giving me the sort of brush off he would an autograph hound who wouldn’t stop bugging him while he eats. And this was in a gym.
Charlie Hales is more big league than a pro baseball scrub. If he didn’t have time for a picture, it’s okay.
But he took a moment and I turned into thrilled fan. There’s no other way to explain the feeling.
One of my facebook friends is mayor of a small town in Oregon and walked the Rose Festival Parade. He even went to the Oregon Mayors’ Lunch.
From the Oregon Mayors’ March:
- My boomer instincts tell me Charlie Hales ‘gets it.’ He gets that Portland is more than the West Hills, more than the MAC, and more than a campaign promise. He sees more of Portland than the limited vision at fund raising events.
He’s seen Portland change from his arrival in 1979, the same year I showed up on the bus from New York City. Your faithful blogger came with the biggest big city in his wake after growing up small town in North Bend. I liked moving back to my home state without fearing the biggest city here.
Would Portland even qualify as a borough of New York? No, but it’s a perfect size for Oregon. Charlie Hales is an Eastie. He knows what huge cities look like, but doesn’t see Portland any less important because of it’s size.
Portland may be a stepping stone for some, but from the street level of the Rose Festival Parade, Portland looked like a mission for this mayor.
From the news out of city hall, it sounds like he’s taking the right steps to accomplish his Portland Mission.