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37th "Sundae in the Park" draws thousands to Sellwood Park

DAVID F. ASHTON - The little girl taking a big bite of ice cream, at the 2016 Sundae in the Park in Sellwood Park, is Margaret Anderson. Longtime Sellwood and Westmoreland residents and newcomers alike once again flocked to upper Sellwood Park on S.E. 7th Avenue on the first Sunday in August, for the annual SMILE “party for the neighborhood” – Sundae in the Park. SMILE, the party’s host, is the neighborhood association for both communities – the “Sellwood Moreland Improvement League”.

The forecast was for cooler-than-usual temperatures, with a chance of occasional sprinkles – but, as is the tradition on the first Sunday in August, it stayed dry. And the mild sunny weather made this year’s event especially enjoyable.

“This is the 37th year that we have held this event,” remarked SMILE Vice President, and current “Sundae in the Park” Committee member, Gail Hoffnagle. “The neighborhood association offers this as a ‘thank you’ to our neighbors who live here.”

The annual outdoor festival always features live musical and variety entertainment – and the headliners this year were the “Opus School of Music”, International entertainer and magician Henrik Bothe (a Sellwood resident), Coupe Duet, and the “American Coots”.

Other activities run concurrently for the kids, this year including a hands-on reptile show put on by Mr. Lizard, and craft projects like “exploding dinosaur eggs”. All of SMILE’s committees offered information and chatted with the public at tables and tents, joined by other local nonprofit organizations.

“The centerpiece of our celebration is the inexpensive double-scoop ice cream sundaes with toppings, served by members of the Southeast Portland Rotary Club,” Hoffnagle told THE BEE. “This great service organization has gotten really good at scooping ice cream over the years.”

As the neighborhood becomes more densely populated, Hoffnagle observed, events such as this one gain in importance. “We now have 10,000 people living within our boundaries, it’s only going to increase with all the construction here.

“So, it’s more important than ever to reach out to people who may be feel isolated and don’t think they belong to a community,” Hoffnagle said.

A group of about 25 volunteers work to present the day’s activities, Hoffnagle commented, as a member of the overseeing committee. “It’s important to recognize Nancy Walsh, Chair of the Sundae in the Park committee, as well as the other members, Dana Beck, Eric Norberg, and Diane Jensen.”

The event continues to be a fundraiser for Thelma Skelton Meals on Wheels People center.

More than 1,400 Umpqua Dairy chocolate and vanilla ice cream sundaes were served, and raised just under $1,000, the majority of which goes to the Meals on Wheels People at the Thelma Skelton Center on S.E. Milwaukie Avenue, reported Southeast Portland Rotary Club Treasurer John Ellis.

The new Manager of that Meals on Wheels Center, Diane Jensen said, “This is wonderful. This community event is just awesome. I’m overwhelmed and very much filled with gratitude for the support.” In fact, the previous Manager there, Collette Livermore, also came on her day off to help out.

Individuals and families came and went, during the leisurely and musical afternoon, and many who left in the afternoon returned that evening for the Portland Parks’ Movie in the Park presentation, sponsored by the Sellwood Westmoreland Business Alliance (SWBA), last year’s hit movie, “Jurassic World”.

Missed it? Look for the 38th annual “Sundae in the Park” in the same location again next year, starting at noon – on the first Sunday in August!