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Locals turn out in force, and rainslickers, for Old Time Fair Parade

Community turnout was large at West Linn Old Time Fair considering uncooperative weather
by: VERN UYETAKE Zoe, at left, and Coleton Bengtson throw candy to parade onlookers as part of the West Linn Community Preschool entry in Saturday’s Old Time Fair parade.

It wouldn't be an Oregon parade if the rain clouds didn't make an appearance. Saturday morning, people armed with umbrellas and ponchos lined the rain-slicked streets in downtown Willamette to see passing floats and recognize their fellow neighbors in the West Linn Old Time Fair Parade.

The parade's theme was 'Something to Roar About,' and with 42 entries, it seemed fitting. Floats included everything from fire engines to dance troops, and people seemed spirited despite the drizzle.

'It is good to see the rain cleared off a bit for the floats,' Jim Kelly, a West Linn resident, said after the rain ceased for a spell. However, the drizzle started back up toward the end, and people reached for their raincoats.

'I can't believe it. Who's raining on my parade?' asked this year's grand marshal Mike Watters, smiling.

Watters, who is part of the West Linn Lions Club, was chosen to be grand marshal because of his volunteer experience.

'It was nice to see the community stand up and show their support,' Watters said.

Two such people were Tim and Lisa Tofte, who helped with the 'Safe Boating for Kids' float. Their responsibility was to trailer a boat full of cub scouts along the parade route, which was ascribed to them somewhat at the last minute.

'We didn't expect to be driving the car,' Lisa Tofte said. 'But we couldn't walk away from the kids.'

Their selfless act was one of many that allowed this damp parade to happen.

'The volunteers helped put on a marvelous parade,' Watters said. 'It was just phenomenal to see the amount of support people had.'

While some people put on hoods to keep the rain off, many kids didn't seem to mind it at all. They were too busy snatching up candy being thrown from parade participants, taking to the sweets the way schools of piranhas take to top sirloin.

One man was dressed in full raingear and had helped with his son and daughter's floats since 8:45 a.m. He too was collecting candy.

'Since my kids are in the parade this year, I was given specific instructions by them to collect candy,' he said.

Watters was one participant throwing candy, but he became worried when he ran out. He felt bad as the kids looked on expectedly.

'Then I realized, 'duh, we're the first car, the other floats will get them candy,'' he said.

Following the grand marshal's car were many colorful entries, many of which reflected the theme well. One such float featured kids dressed up like various jungle animals with a banner that read 'Something to Roar About.'

Another popular entry was a West Linn fire engine that sported a massive water cannon.

'That was my favorite,' West Linn resident Steve Schelot said. 'I'd like to see that cannon go off.'

Despite the periodic drizzle, the parade was a success, and support was at an all-time high.

'I was quite surprised at the turnout,' Tofte said. 'I thought the rain would dampen the spirit, but there were a good number of people.'