By Gini Davis
The Creswell Chronicle
Food, fun and entertainment abounded as thousands of people turned out July 4 to help Creswell celebrate our nation’s independence and all the freedoms we enjoy.
“Our celebration gives people from all over the region a way to celebrate our Independence Day in a traditional way and pass that on to future generations,” said Creswell Chamber of Commerce President Don Amberg.
Amberg estimated 5,000 to 7,000 people watched the community’s annual Fourth of July Parade, and 1,500 to 2,000 milled around Holt Park, where live music played, an activity area at the south end of the park offered interactive family fun, and 31 vendors – up from 20 in 2016 – offered a variety of foods, crafts and more.
“Many of our local businesses were open or in the park,” Amberg noted. “They were able to connect with customers that hopefully will stop in again and visit Creswell more often; additionally, visitors were able to observe all business storefronts and displays.”
The daylong celebration kicked off with the Creswell Chamber of Commerce serving 850 pancake breakfasts in Holt Park, slightly down from last year, which at 920 “was our highest ever,” said longtime breakfast organizer Sheri Schlorman, DVM.
Setup began at 5 a.m. and the first plates were filled at 7 a.m., with the last hungry diners served a little after 10. “There was plenty of food, clean-up went well, and the entire breakfast crew and all the grills and supplies were out of the park by 11:10 – the fastest ever,” Schlorman said.
Fifty-two volunteers helped keep things running like clockwork. “We have the greatest bunch of volunteers that help every year, and this year we welcomed 15 new volunteers including many teens,” Schlorman said.
The small amount of leftover food was donated, with the eggs going to Creswell Food Pantry and the syrup, ham and margarine going to the Eugene Mission.
Breakfast sponsors included Foster Farms, Krusteaz, Tangled Orchard Farm and Farmlands Market.
The parade, organized by Hope Baptist Church, started at 11 a.m. with a flyover by small aircraft based at Hobby Field. Leading the 91 entries were local Boy Scouts, who stopped every few blocks to lead the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance. A fighter jet flew overhead at about 11:35 a.m.
As always, streets all along the parade route were lined with revelers. Eager children scooped up candy tossed gently from floats, squealed with delight as water sprayed, and waved and cheered as red-white-and-blue-bedecked floats, horses, firetrucks, vintage cars, marching bands, military vehicles, tractors, bicycles, dogs and more marched by for better than an hour.
After the parade, EAA Chapter 31 squired 113 kids into the skies on Young Eagles flights. “We broke our all-time record for a single-day Young Eagle event,” said Gary Ludeke.
Local pilots made a total of 59 flights using 14 airplanes – both certified production and experimental aircraft, four-seaters and two-seaters, ranging from new to antique – and 15 pilots.
Ludeke credited Chapter 31 President John Kuehl’s “stellar” job organizing and running this year’s event, and the volunteers who helped keep the event running smoothly.
“It took an incredible amount of effort and dedication to pull it off, and the fact that we flew a record number of youngsters is an indication of how well this event was run,” Ludeke said, adding that among the volunteers were “spouses of members, non-flying members and a large group from the local Civil Air Patrol squadron.”
Kuehl measured the event’s success another way: “We provided first flights to 113 young people, which translated to 113 smiles – plus those on their parents’ faces,” he said.
At dusk, crowds gathered to watch the fireworks fly. Multiple colorful, simultaneous bursts shot into the air over the field between Creswell High and Creslane Elementary for more than half an hour, garnering clapping and cheers.
“Overall, I think we had another successful year,” Amberg said. “The celebration creates pride in and for our community. Creswell’s Fourth of July Celebration is an opportunity for our community to show others around the region that we are alive, thriving and a great small town.”