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New park wows the crowd

by: Vern Uyetake, Lake Oswego residents Katherine Travers, 4, and Molly Thorstenson, 6,  soak in the new fountain at Foothills Park Saturday during the park’s grand opening.

The Lake Oswego Parks and Recreation Department probably couldn't have hand picked a better day of the year to hold the grand opening of its newest location for local nature-lovers to enjoy the outdoors.

Foothills Park, situated on a scenic nine-acre piece of property bordering the Willamette River, received a fitting opening ceremony Saturday as thousands of individuals from all over the Portland-metro area turned out to enjoy the new facilities and the evening's entertainment.

Prior to the event, organizers were not sure what the turnout would be as the park's construction has flown under the radar slightly.

However, any fears of not attracting a large number of visitors were quickly laid to rest. At 1 p.m. families swarmed the park, participating in a wide variety of popular backyard games.

Large chess games were set up as well as bocce contests, badminton nets and croquet wickets.

'It was great to see people playing all of the games and bringing their own equipment. We mainly wanted to introduce everyone to what's available,' said Kathy Kern of the Lake Oswego Parks and Recreation Department.

Other park attendees checked out the newly installed William Stafford stones featuring the words of Oregon's former poet laureate while everyone seemed to enjoy the views of the river that the park offers.

The most popular attraction during the afternoon may have been the park's small water feature, which attracted scores of young children and provided some adults with a way to cool off.

'It's kind of like a little beach. I've never seen more kids gathered in Lake Oswego,' Kern said.

As the afternoon wore on, the crowds remained in anticipation of the evening's entertainment. However, parking throughout the day did not prove to be an issue because of the efficient shuttle, which transported passengers to and from downtown Lake Oswego.

'The shuttles really saved the day. All of the comments we received were overwhelmingly positive,' Kern said.

The park's amphitheater filled up in the early evening and prolific blues musician Charlie Musselwhite received an impressive ovation from the crowd.

Foothills Park had steady crowds all afternoon and into the evening with many individuals pouring in after the sun went down to catch the fireworks display.

Shortly after dusk, the fireworks commenced over the river, capping an extremely successful grand opening.

'It was the icing on the cake,' Kern said.