Baha'i News -- Teddy bears add spice to busy downtown Gresham

Metro East News

Teddy bears add spice to busy downtown Gresham

09/30/02

LISA DANIELS

GRESHAM -- For grown-ups, it was a chance to take out their favorite kids.

For businesses, it was a chance to entertain customers.

And for thousands of Gresham schoolchildren, it was a chance to march and wave to their friends.

The 20th annual Soroptimist Teddy Bear Parade offered something for everyone who participated in or watched the procession, as it snaked for more than a mile through downtown Gresham's streets Saturday morning. Under clear skies, it offered everyone a good time.

"This is a time for him just to be happy," said Daryl Croxell, watching his 7-year-old grandson gape at the classic cars rolling by.

Saturday's march celebrated the 100th anniversary of the teddy bear and 20th anniversary of the parade, founded by Toy Bear store co-owner Pat Fiedler and a few friends to commemorate historic downtown's switch from one- to two-way streets. About 3,000 took part, and thousands more watched.

Participants included Scouts, senior citizens and students on scooters. Among the animals in the parade were a Percheron draft horse weighing more than a ton and a Yorkshire terrier weighing only a few pounds. There were clowns, floats and thousands of teddy bears, including human-filled bears that walked, and stuffed bears that children carried.

The revue and the crowd provided insight into some of the concerns and priorities of east Multnomah County. A float encouraged spectators to support Gresham Sports Park, a 33-acre park being developed by volunteers. A couple wore stickers promoting the proposed $68.4 million Mt. Hood Community College bond, which will be on November ballots.

"It's a community gathering," said Mary Zoe Petersen, a member of Soroptimist International of Gresham, the women's service club that sponsored the event, considered the culmination of Gresham's annual Children's Week.

Some participants used the occasion to demonstrate their beliefs or promote their causes.

Cub Scout Pack 235, which meets at North Gresham Grade School, paused along the parade route to recite "The Pledge of Allegiance."

Lorri Wicht, whose 11-year-old son, Cory, has diabetes, drove a truck decorated with a sign that read "Diabetes awareness in Gresham -- open your eyes!"

Followers of the Baha'i faith displayed a painting of a globe and a sign that read: "1 God, 1 Earth, 1 Family of Man."

Members of a four-part female a cappella chorus tried to recruit others as they walked next to a red convertible bearing their telephone number and slogan, "We're looking for a few good women -- who like to sing!"

Many businesses used the parade to spread good will. Merchants Bank fielded a drill team whose members wore white ponchos, carried green umbrellas and stepped in time. Wells Fargo Bank's entry featured a stagecoach, horses and employees ready to scoop up anything the animals left behind.

The parade helped make it a busy autumn day downtown. Farmers sold vegetables at the Gresham Farmers' Market. At the Gresham History Museum, history buffs dedicated plaques commemorating the gift of a Colorado blue spruce and a donation made to remember late society member Frieda Akse. In Main City Park, the Springwater Festival honored the community's work to restore Johnson Creek.

"Gresham's a happening place," said Lesli Uebel, who took her 9-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son to the parade and festival. "This really brings the community together and instills a sense of pride in the community . . . It makes me glad I live here." Lisa Daniels: 503-294-5943; lisadaniels@news.oregonian.com


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