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Toe-tapping tunes bring neighbors to Sellwood Riverfront Park

by: David F. Ashton, Sitting on the grass, down by the river, more than 1,000 gathered for the swinging sounds of Stolen Sweets (upper left).

With a light, cooling breeze blowing in off the Willamette River, more than 1,000 folks came out for the opening of the concert season at Sellwood Riverfront Park on July 10th.

This particular program featured 'Stolen Sweets', a Portland '30's swing jazz band which has just released a new CD.

The smell of fresh kettle-corn filled the air; vendors provided beverages and snacks. But many just brought along their picnic baskets loaded with their favorite outdoor treats.

'Having a concert in the neighborhood helps all of us feel connect with our neighborhood,' explained Kristin Knapp, Summer Concerts coordinator for Portland Parks and Recreation. 'Music connects people. And these concerts help us 'claim' our parks for ourselves and our families, and help us to be proud of our neighborhood.'

And, from a practical standpoint, the music programs help improve park safety too, Knapp added. 'When we have events here, it helps people not feel afraid to come to the park. The park is a safe place to go. When we create good events in the park, it chases out any undesirable activities.'

The Sellwood Riverfront Park concerts, held each year on every Monday evening in July, are presented by Portland Parks and Recreation, SMILE, and several local businesses.