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Boomer Mayor

Charlie Hales Marches The Rose Festival ParadeThe Mayor & I

The Mayor & I

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:

On a day where he had a schedule to keep, Charlie Hales heard my request for a photo and didn’t have time. Understandable. Besides I took a shot of him five seconds earlier.mayor3

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:

“They invited Oregon Mayors to walk in the Parade with Charlie because the Rose Festival is seen as a statewide event and not just Portland. There were about 30 of us that showed up. I think more should come in the future as it really is an outstanding event.
“I was very surprised at Charlie’s popularity since he is new. I would say thousands recognized him and offered encouragement. Many people shouted that he was doing a great job and making a difference. He and his wife were very personable as you described with your picture and they took time to stop and chat and have pictures. Then they had to run to catch up but did not seem to mind at all.
“His wife, Nancy was so energetic I bet she walked about 8 miles over the route as she was all over the place. The Hales were very gracious after the parade and hosted us for a luncheon. There were quite a few mayors from the Portland area. Julie from Corvallis came and Hillsboro’s mayor was there also. 
“Others that were there from the Portland area (off the top of my head) include Forest Grove, Lake Oswego, Woodburn (ok not Portland), and Oregon City. I am probably missing others. Eagle Point also came. I talked to Charlie quite a bit on the route and he seems like a very down to earth guy who does not act like you would imagine the typical big city mayor to act. I heard a couple of the mayors say he is very congenial and pariticpates in all the intergovernmental mayoral meetings in the 3 county area which is apparently not what happened in the past mayor’s term.”
  • 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.

mayor2He’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.



About David Gillaspie
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