Wasted in the heat
The other day Oregonian columnist Steve Duin remarked that in his many years in Portland, he's rarely attended any events related to the Rose Festival. I'm in the same camp these days -- although I made that scene in my first few years here, it's been more than two decades since I've shown my face at a Rose Festival event. When festival time arrives, like many year-round Portlanders, I'm usually thinking about getting out of town.
Today I made a rare exception and headed out with my daughter to the waterfront carnival. I knew we picked a tough day to try this -- the mercury hit 98 degrees in late afternoon -- but I'm always trying to do my paternal duty.
The "waterfront village," as it's now known, was cleaner, somewhat better furnished, and less populated by lowlifes than I remembered it. Back in the days when it was called the "fun center," this event was so rough that people died there a couple of years in a row. I'd definitely hesitate before going down there at night, but during the day today, it was downright mellow.
That was the good news.
The bad news was that I had forgotten how expensive everything was. A ride on the carousel: $3.40. Lemonade: $2.50 or $3.00, depending on where you went. Cotton candy: $3.00 or $4.50. Beanie babies for sale in the tent, $7.00 apiece. Heaven knows what one of the big rides, a full meal, or a beer would have set you back. And after 5 p.m., it looked like admission was posted at $5.00. Of course, budget another $4.00 or so if you bring your car. It's a wonder how outfits like this stay in business.
We walked the length of the midway and back, ignoring the many dentally challenged carnies who were doing their best to have me pay in the neighborhood of $5.00 to try to toss a large rubber basketball through an oval-shaped, highly taut hoop in order to win a Sponge Bob doll. My little companion told me that the fast and frightening adult rides made her dizzy just looking at them. I guess that stage is still a few years away for us.
A few Navy ships are around, a shadow of Rose Fleets past, but they're blocked off by imposing fences and a yellow line that surrounds them in the water. Cross either, and you'll be on the wrong side of the Patriot Act, I guess. A handful of Navy guys in their whites were on hand, and man, that was an eye opener. I used to think they looked a little young. Now I see that they're all just babies. God bless them.
There was some nice music (most of it made by high school musicians, on the afternoon shift), a neat free parrot show, and generally good vibrations all around. The searing sun pulled the crowd and the workers together. And the carousel rides we shared were very special.
But the day at the zoo last week was much more fun, a whole lot healthier, and a much better deal. Even giving the "waterfront village" the benefit of the doubt due to the record heat, I wind up with Duin on this one.
Tomorrow promises to see the hottest Grand Floral Parade ever. I mean that literally. Here's hoping that everybody plays it safe out there in the outdoor sauna.