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Thumbs up for the Rose Festival

Earlier this week, a columnist for Portland's largest New York-owned daily newspaper took the opportunity to express his distaste for the civic celebration we call the Rose Festival. As far as I could tell, and I read his column pretty carefully, there isn't a thing about it he likes.

He doesn't like the parades. In 23 years, he says, he's only been to the Starlight Parade once and never has attended the Grand Floral Parade. You've got to respect a man of principle like that.

He doesn't like the G.I. Joe's 200 Champ Car Race, either. Once, he says, he saw some ducklings wander into the path of a race car hurtling down the track at 170 mph, and ever after, 'the event lost its luster' for him. And in truth, it isn't difficult to see how an event like that might affect a sensitive person's outlook.

And naturally, he doesn't like the 'wretched Fun Center' at Waterfront Park. A 'bush league carnival,' he calls it, offering nowhere near the value for your dollar that Disneyland does.

For starters, he doesn't like the going price on elephant ears. And he'll be damned Ñ although to be fair, he did refrain from using such strong language Ñ if he's going to 'cough up $50 so my wife and I can go airborne on the Big Sling.'

Now, from reading Mr. Duin's column, I honestly can't tell whether it's a money problem or something else. But if he really wants to do it, and financial considerations stand in the way, I will personally take up a collection.

There are any number of people who would pay good money to see Mr. Duin go up in the Big Sling Ñ or, failing that, to sit on a whoopee cushion.

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But when it comes to calling the people who go to the Fun Center 'white trash' Ñ as he so cleverly put it, the place reminds him of a screenplay that might be titled 'White Trash Walking' Ñ well, that's where we part company.

I don't know what line of European nobility Mr. Duin traces his ancestry to, but it still doesn't explain where he gets off dismissing people who like to go to the Fun Center as garbage.

But I wouldn't be surprised if more than a few of Mr. Duin's fellow Lake Oswegans wandered through the Fun Center as well. After all, anywhere between 300,000 and 500,000 people visit the Fun Center each year, depending on the weather.

And while we're at it, what is this 'white trash' business, anyway? I can't imagine any major newspaper calling Portlanders 'black trash' or 'Hispanic trash.' So when did 'white trash' suddenly become acceptable?

As someone who's been to the Fun Center myself Ñ and actually enjoyed it Ñ I'd like to hear the answer to that one.

And if, once a year, we mark the turning of the seasons by blowing a little money on cotton candy or overpriced elephant ears Ñ or take a ride on the Ferris wheel, or heaven help us, the Big Sling Ñ so what?

It is, after all, Rose Festival time.

Anyway, we'll see you at the Grand Floral Parade this Saturday. Along with the rest of the Trib staff, I'll be there, handing out parade guides and trinkets on the parade route.

Our parade-day special happens to be a necklace of gaudy red or black beads with a little plastic Trib emblem dangling from the bottom. If you want my considered opinion, and I'm sure you do, it's probably not worth a nickel.

Contact Phil Stanford by phone at 503-546-5166 or by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .