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Sundaes still rule at SMILEs August bash in Sellwood Park

by: David F. Ashton The Southeast Portland Rotary Club’s Doug Foley, with assistance from Margie Davidson, Dawn and Amanda Weinberger, and SMILE Board member Tom Ramsey, scoop those 50-cent ice cream sundaes.

While some people hope for things to change - it seems that everyone wants the annual 'Sundae in the Park' to stay the same. Inexpensive ice cream sundaes, hot food available all day, live music and entertainment, activities for kids - this event has become a tradition to which families all over the area look forward.

Taking advantage of shade provided by the stand of trees, folks calmly waited in a long line snaking through the park for the 50-cent ice cream sundaes and cones scooped by members of Southeast Portland Rotary and their friends. All proceeds go to the 'Meals On Wheels' program of the Thelma Skelton Center of Loaves and Fishes on Milwaukie Avenue, and the amount raised in this, the event's 32nd year, was $849.00.

'We go back many years with Sundae in the Park,' smiled the center's manager, Lynne Chowning. 'It's been our biggest fundraiser of the year for many, many years.'

More than the money it raises, Chowning said it's also an important outreach effort for the nonprofit organization. 'We welcome anyone who wants to know anything about our Loaves and Fishes dining center, or getting Meals-on-Wheels, so we can get them signed up. And, we're always looking for volunteers - delivery drivers, cooks, servers. We also like having people who want to come over and talk to the seniors. Give us a call at 503/953-8209, or visit online at: www.feedseniors.org .

The Chairperson of Sundae in the Park this year was longtime SMILE volunteer, and Board member of the neighborhood organization, Nancy Walsh. 'I'm a long-time resident of the neighborhood, and this is a day we've all enjoyed for years. That's why helping to organize it is one of my projects. It's a great day for the neighborhood to get together and do things recreational, educational things, and cultural.'

This kind of gathering, Walsh added, 'Gives the neighbors a chance to meet people, and find that there are a lot of people in the area have same interests but they do. When people get to know each other, if differences arise, they're more easily able to work things out because they've shared events like this one.'

Sellwood's most famous postal worker, Dana Beck, who was master of ceremonies for the day, added, 'I enjoy being the entertainment coordinator for Sundae in the Park. Seeing the happy faces on all the little kids is what I enjoy the most. It's very special to see families having so much fun together. Even though I don't live in Sellwood, I come here to volunteer my time because it's so wonderful a neighborhood.'

After a day of concerts, the fun continued into the evening after the sun sank behind the tall firs as the Portland Parks and Recreation's Movie in the Park giant screen showed 'Yogi Bear'.

After the last picnic basket was purloined in Jellystone Park, folks left wishing the 'first Sunday in August' - when Sundae in Sellwood Park always occurs - would come around more than once a year.