Picture perfect moms
Visitors to downtown Gresham this weekend — especially Mother's Day on Sunday — will see most of the windows in local businesses plastered in kids' drawings. The annual city tradition is just one way local elementary schoolchildren and the community honors moms in Gresham.
The drawing contest, which is run by the Historic Downtown Gresham Business Association, has been a celebrated event for 26 years.
"I am so thankful the Mother's Day portraits continue each year," said Jennifer Carvajal, a kindergarten teacher at Kelly Creek Elementary School and a mom. "It is a beloved tradition in Gresham, and I look forward to seeing all the drawings on my Saturday morning walk."
This year, 2,800 Gresham-Barlow School District students in kindergarten to third grade from 96 classrooms submitted drawings of their moms. The contest is not judged on artistic talent
"It's not about finding the best art, it's about the kids who capture the thoughtfulness of the subject," said Judy Han, one of the owners at Sunny Han's Wok and Grill.
This year's theme was "My mom is a Winner." The Business Association provides the paper and supplies to the teachers, not wanting to add to expenses, and then judges the drawings.
A lot of downtown businesses love putting them up, and somehow organizers are able to find room for them all. The businesses also donate gifts to the winners of the competition. Second and third place for each grade got framed versions of their artwork, while the first-place drawers enjoyed gift baskets and a chance to meet the Gresham City Council.
"What our mayor and council is doing to let the kids come and take pictures is so special," Han said. "In Gresham, we have this great bridge between the city and community."
Moms who attended were given bouquets of flowers during the council meeting.
"Thank you, kids, for drawing your beautiful mothers and letting us put them up in downtown," said Gresham Mayor Shane Bemis. Bemis' own children participated when they were younger, and his business, Boccelli's Ristorante, always displays the drawings.
The Outlook's own Sharon Nesbit admitted her son probably wouldn't have drawn her portrait for Mother's Day. During the same City Council meeting where the first-place drawers recognized, Nesbit shared a story from motherhood.
She remembered a morning when her 9-year-old son was making his own breakfast and lunch while she enjoyed a cigarette and cup of coffee.
"'Mom,' he asked, 'Why can't you be like other moms?'" Nesbit remembered with a laugh.
The Mother's Day drawing contest has a special place in the heart of Brandy Hull, manager at Jazzy Bagels, as it reminds her of the gifts her three children made.
"I've kept everything they've made me over the years," Hull said. "Some of the gifts they may be embarrassed to know I kept, but they are all special."
The favorite part for everyone at Jazzy, including the customers, is when the kids bring their moms and families to the window in search of their masterpiece. One weekend afternoon as she was walking to her car, Hull saw one little boy so thrilled to show his mom her portrait that he was "dancing in excitement."
"Jazzy Bagels is a family place, so it makes sense for us to honor mothers," Hull said.
For the businesses, participating in the drawing contest is also a way to come together as a community.
"We love to do things as a whole downtown area," said Ron Brown, owner at Off the Charts Games. "This year we have a first-grade class up, and we love looking at the art."
Off the Charts has been downtown for seven years, and always jump at the chance to say yes to the event. For the newest business in downtown Gresham, Maggie Mae's Kids Bookshop, saying yes to showing the art was a no-brainer.
"It seemed like a natural fit because we are geared towards kids and want to be a part of the community," said owner Shoshonna Roberts. "We love being able to have kids be excited about their moms."
Maggie Mae's normally has kids' drawings up in the windows, so it was an easy shift to the Mother's Day artwork. Though this is just the first time for the shop, it is already looking forward to participating in the future.
The drawings will remain in downtown through Mother's Day weekend, and then each drawing will be returned to the kids so they can officially be given to all the deserving moms.
"We love doing this because it lets everyone say thanks to the moms," Han said.