The annual carnival in Milwaukie will feature many modes of ground transportation, from bikes to dump trucks
by: Ellen Spitaleri, Jeff Louden, chief organizer for the Hector Campbell Elementary School carnival,  is hoping the event  on March 15 will attract  lots of families. Louden, above, holds daughter Kathryn, and at right is son, Cole.

Jeff Louden knows he 'can't beat life-flight,' but he hopes that this year's Hector Campbell Elementary School carnival on March 15 will still attract families and kids with its 'World of Wheels' theme.

Last year, when the life-flight helicopter landed on the front lawn of the school, there was an emotional meeting between a young girl who had been airlifted by life-flight, and the flight nurse who had helped in her rescue.

For those two to 'reconnect at the carnival was phenomenal,' Louden said, adding that the young patient 'got to say thank you,' and the nurse was able to see how well the young girl had recovered.

For this year's carnival, Louden, who is organizing the event for the PTA, said he looked into his own past, when his father was a Marine.

He remembered being fascinated by all the military vehicles and equipment, so he decided to incorporate a wheels theme, and he wants to take the event 'from bicycles to construction vehicles, and everything in between.'

He particularly wanted 'to catch as many people as possible with odd vehicles,' he said.

To that end, he has arranged for a loader and dump truck from Halton Cat rental company, and the Oregon Department of Transportation has agreed to bring several pieces of equipment.

He's hoping that members of the military vehicles collectors clubs will bring vehicles, along with representatives from AMR ambulance services, the fire department, sheriff's office and the police department.

'I contacted the Oregon Human Powered Vehicle Association who will make the carnival a destination for people with bicycles, and especially recumbent bikes,' Louden said.

He also contacted four-wheel drive clubs, a dune buggy group and individuals with unusual and vintage cars.

Enticing to kids, families

The Hector Campbell Elementary School carnival is an annual event, Louden said, that used to be called Family Fun Night.

About three or four years ago it was moved outside, so more activities could be added to appeal to older children.

Traditional activities like bingo, raffle baskets, carnival-style games and a cakewalk will still be in place, with an inflatable 'bounce house' and slide added in, Louden explained.

Because many of the activities appeared to be 'boy-centric,' he said ideas for girls include face painting, the cakewalk and art booths.

The carnival is a benefit for the school, Louden noted, saying that the PTA wants to raise money to upgrade the computer lab.

'That's the number-one thing the proceeds go to, but we also want to provide supplies for the new music teacher and help fund Outdoor School,' he said.

The PTA also runs the clothes closet and the lunch buddy program.

Visitors to the carnival may bring donations to the clothes closet or canned food, he said.

Louden, who has two sons at the school, a son at Rowe Middle School and a daughter who is 21 months old, said that the carnival is free, but tickets for the rides range from 25 cents to $1.

He said the PTA has also opened up the carnival to non-profit groups or agencies who might like to run a booth at the event.

Food will be available, served out of the school's kitchen.

'The food will be prepared by a cook from Shari's, who is also a PTA member,' Louden noted.

Parking will be available, but Louden said he is encouraging families who live close by to walk to the event, to avoid traffic problems.

He added that's he's 'really satisfied' with the level of community support, and he is just hoping the weather cooperates on March 15. The booths will all be undercover in the breezeway, and the gymnasium is a fall-back location for some of the events, he said.

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