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Eastmoreland parade, and hot dog BBQ, enliven July 4th

by: David F. Ashton Otto’s Sausage Kitchen volunteers Bill Braman and Gretchen Eichentopf give hotdogs to neighbors Matt McRae and Kathy Hart.

During the morning hours of the Fourth of July, the streets of Eastmoreland were quiet, as one would expect on a national holiday.

But, at about 10:45 am on that day, folks emerged from their homes - dressed in red, white, and blue - and drifted toward Duniway Elementary School, lining up on S.E. Reed College Place.

By 11 am, Portland Police Bureau Traffic Division officers were rolling out, leading what organizers estimated to be a 1,500-member parade north along the Linden Allée. The neighborhood's traditional Independence Day celebration had begun.

'I'm not quite sure,' said the event's coordinator, Rebecca Brandt, 'But I think this is perhaps our 18th year of holding a July 4th parade and hot dog barbecue.'

Now in her own fifth year as coordinator, Brandt said she took on the responsibility because the previous organizer moved from the neighborhood. 'We've always enjoyed coming to this every year, and I have been an event planner for several years, and I've done public relations - it just came naturally for me to help do this.'

But, she's not alone in her efforts, Brandt added, because her husband helps out by setting up the P.A. and music system for the event. 'And, on the day itself, people come out of their houses and just help out.

'I send an all-call, and we have 15 different families donating the use of the coolers for the day. Neighbors come from across the street and help us put out the garbage boxes and clean up. So, it 'just happens', because our neighborhood comes together to put it on.'

Brandt reserved special praise for Otto's Sausage Kitchen in Woodstock. 'They come every year, and provide hot dogs, buns, condiments - the works - and bring their cheerful crew for this parade.'

After the brief march up S.E. Reed College Place and back, the throng formed dual lines that ended up at the Otto's cart. Gretchen Eichentopf of Otto's said that her store was asked to provide hot dogs -'That was maybe 14 or 15 years ago. We've been here, every Fourth of July since. We love giving away sausages to kids and adults; and we put out a little donation jar to help defray some of the costs.'

In all, more than 1,200 sausage luncheons were served in the Duniway School parking lot that day to smiling, patient neighbors.

Looking over the crowd, Brandt commented, 'This is a real community-builder. It's a great event for the neighborhood - for people to come to with their families, and celebrate Independence Day together.'

Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz, in charge of the Office of Neighborhood Involvement, agreed, after she walked the parade route. 'I'm thrilled to be invited. Even though I live in Southwest Portland, I'm responsible to all 95 Portland neighborhoods. It's wonderful to see so many families with children, seniors, and everyone else, enjoying this amazing neighborhood.'