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Rock out in Rockwood

OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - The kids parade at the 2015 Rock the Block celebration gets off to a good start. Rock the Block, now in its fourth year, celebrates everything Rockwood on Friday and Saturday, June 3 and 4.

The theme for this year’s free family-friendly festival is “Rock Your Body, Rock Your Brain,” with a focus on fitness and STEAM: Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics.

Festival favorites — especially those lovable llamas — are back, and the festival has added new features.

“We’re trying to have diverse entertainment that reflects Rockwood’s diversity,” said Lisa Obunge, project manager at Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center, which organizes the event. One new feature will be a fashion show and hip hop demonstration by Reynolds High School students.

Plaza del Sol, 18535 S.E. Stark St., will be rockin’ from 3-8 p.m. on Friday, June 3, and on Saturday, June 4, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The shindig features live entertainment, music and dance, games and other activities for kids, information booths — and lots and lots of food. The number of information booths will jump from 42 to 50, and each booth will have an activity for kids. Those will include free healthy snacks, science experiments, technology and engineering demonstrations, puzzles, games, arts and crafts projects, animals and more.

New this year is a STEAM-oriented tent for children. Every 30 minutes a different group will create a fun-filled, hands-on science or art presentation. The Audubon Society is bringing its popular owl pellets for kids to dissect. Another group will have GoPro cameras, and Rockwood Library will have its 3D printers for kids to try out.

“We hope to get kids interested in science and maybe consider it for a career,” Obunge said.

Kids can join a parade that will prance around the plaza at noon, Saturday, June 3. Organizers have gathered some fun parade paraphernalia for kids to wear and use to add to the fun. The grand marshal will be a robot built by students from Rosemary Anderson High School.

There will be free Feast of Nations dinner Friday, June 3, at 6 p.m. For kids who might not like the international fare, Gresham police officers will grill hot dogs. If you’re still hungry, there will be free community sack lunches at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.

Rock the Block, which is organized by POIC and Rosemary Anderson High School and sponsored by the city of Gresham, has grown every year. Last year it drew 2,000 people, and organizers expect 2,500 this year.

“The city has been phenomenal in the whole process,” Obunge said.