West Linn celebrates its centennial birthday

by: STAFF PHOTOS: VERN UYETAKE - West Linn Mayor John Kovash, right, joins DJ Scott Tom, center, and Jerry Hoffman of Johnny Limbo and the Lugnuts in singing 'Happy Birthday' to West Linn to kick off the centennial celebration Thursday evening at Tanner Creek Park.

They came in droves, the youngest in strollers and oldest ambling slowly around the grounds at Mary S. Young State Park, all for the common purpose of celebrating a monumental birthday.

West Linn turned 100 years old on Aug. 15, and for three days the city paid tribute to its centennial birthday with a number of events — starting with a fireworks display Aug. 15 during the weekly Music in the Park concernt and culminating in the Day of Centennial Celebration on Aug. 17 at Mary S. Young State Park.

Under a large tent was the Centennial Museum, whose display was filled with photos and newspaper clippings from West Linn’s earliest days, as well as informational placards detailing the more minute details.

Saturday kicked off with a pet parade at 10 a.m., and as the day wore on attendees enjoyed famous West Linn Lions burgers while taking in juggling performanes, a “tree dancing” show and live music. Children, meanwhile, flocked over to a climbing wall and bounce house.

“We live really close by,” said Katy Paul, a resident of the Bolton neighborhood who attended the event with her husband, Joel. “We thought we’d take a walk in the park and check it out.”

The couple was standing in the middle of the Centennial Museum, learning about the backstory of a city they’d moved to just a year prior.

“We were interested in the Bolton information,” Katy Paul said. “We didn’t know it was actually its own town before it became part of West Linn.”

What the Pauls love about West Linn is a common description from residents both young and old: It’s quiet, safe, a place where fun is just around the corner if you care to look.

“There’s always something going on,” Katy Paul said.

Mary and Vaughn Larson know plenty about what makes West Linn stand out. Residents for the last 28 years, the Larsons made sure to attend all three of the city’s organized centennial celebrations: the fireworks to kick things off, a “100 Years of Music” concert at Hammerle Park on Friday and the main celebration on Saturday afternoon.

“I’ve seen people the last few days that I haven’t seen in years,” Vaughn Larson said.

So yes, while they enjoyed the pomp and circumstance — as Vaughn Larson said, “the fireworks were the best ground display I’ve seen in years” — the Larsons mostly relished in the communal atmosphere they see as special to West Linn.

“I’m a past president of the women’s Riverview Lions,” Mary Larson said. “And just the overwhelming good will and ambassadorship of people coming together and helping others — it’s so overwhelming that I tell people at work in Portland and they say, ‘Where?’ They’re not used to helping other people.”

Even non-residents like Mitch Miller, of Tigard, noticed it. Miller and his wife recently took over a State Farm insurance location in downtown West Linn, and he stopped by the centennial celebration as a means of community outreach.

“West Linn is amazing,” Miller said. “It feels like a small town within a big town. ... You go out to get something from your car and people are honking and saying, ‘How you doing?’ It’s nice.”

Lori Anderson of the West Linn Riverview Lions dishes up birthday cake. Marge Eppelsheimer, front center, celebrates her 83rd birthday as well as West Linn's 100th birthday along with family memers, from left back row, Gary, Jan, Rhonda and David Eppelsheimer.

Alma Coston displays a copy of the centennial quilt book. Diana and Dick Pliler dance up a storm at Thursday's celebration at Tanner Creek Park.

Zane Elazma checks out his face painting during Thursday's festivities at Tanner Creek Park. Hayden Downing, 6, visits with pet parade participant Otis from the Lake Oswego Hunt Club.

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