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35th annual "Sundae in the Park" draws big crowds

Photo Credit: DAVID F. ASHTON - Their ice cream sundaes, served to them at Sundae in the Park in Sellwood Park on August 3rd, delight Lila Ginocchio and Naomi Margolis.It was as if everyone in the neighborhood had been simultaneously notified – commanding them to appear in upper Sellwood Park, on S.E. 7th Avenue, at noon on Sunday, August 3.

“It was quiet here when we were setting up this morning,” reflected Sellwood Moreland Improvement League (SMILE) neighborhood association President Gail Hoffnagle. “But, when 12 o’clock noon came around and our annual ‘Sundae in the Park’ celebration began, hundreds of people just appeared. It’s one of our fastest startups ever!”

And, it didn’t take long for a line to form for the “two-scoops-with-toppings” 75-cent sundaes (up a quarter from previous years). “In addition to our wonderful volunteers from the Southeast Portland Rotary Club serving lots of ice cream, we have great kids’ crafts provided by a number of organizations in Sellwood and Westmoreland,” Hoffnagle pointed out.

Early in the day, magical and psychic entertainer Hart Keene kept the crowd in stitches with creative presentations that evoked laughter, gasps of surprise, and many rounds of applause. Then, music filled the air as four successive bands played different genres of music until nearly 6 pm. Then the day completed with more live music and a movie from Portland Parks and Recreation.

“The Movie in the Park at dusk, ‘Back to the Future’, was sponsored by the Sellwood-Westmoreland Business Alliance,” Hoffnagle told THE BEE. “We really appreciate their support.”

Hoffnagle also commended the event’s tireless Chair, Nancy Walsh, who had left the park briefly to retrieve additional five-gallon tubs of the Umpqua Dairy ice cream. “We also thank committee members Dana Beck and Eric Norberg. Altogether, about fifty volunteers have come together to make this another great event.”

In addition to kids’ fun and games, many nonprofit organizations and public safety representatives set up displays nearby. “This serves as Sellwood’s National Night Out party – but it’s during the day,” commented Hoffnagle. “But I’m quite certain, because this is our 35th annual ‘Sundae in the Park’, that we were doing this long before National Night Out was thought of.”

It’s always had the same goal as National Night Out parties, though, she added: “It is important for people in our neighborhood to come together and enjoy an afternoon and get to know each other. And, it’s our Neighborhood Association’s way of giving back to our community.”

Again this year, the ice cream sundae sales were a fundraiser for “The Meals on Wheels People Thelma Skelton Center” on S.E. Milwaukie Avenue.

“Raising funds is important to our center,” explained Thelma Skelton Center Manager Colette Livermore. “But, just as important, it gets us out into the community, to bring awareness of our program.”

Meals on Wheels is always in need of volunteer drivers, kitchen helpers, steering committee members, as well as “eyes and ears in the community” to help them identify seniors who need their services, Livermore said. “Call me at 503/953-8209, or via e-mail: HYPERLINK "mailto:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it." This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..”

As evening fell, Portland Parks and Recreation brought in The River City Band, rocking two sets of classic music, and set up for a Movie in the Park presentation of science fiction comedy classic, “Back to the Future”. And, to cap off the day of record attendance, there were an estimated 800 to 1,000 people in front of the big outdoor screen for the movie under the stars – the best turnout yet, by far, for the day-ending film.

Planning has already begun for the 36th annual Sundae in the Park on the first Sunday afternoon in August next year. You might want to save the date.