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Locals, visitors enjoy Fourth of July

Hood River’s Fourth of July celebrations this year proved just as popular with out-of-towners as they were with locals.

Among the crowd gathered for the 10 a.m. parade and subsequent festivities at Jackson Park were plenty of families from Portland and elsewhere who came to enjoy Hood River’s small town flavor.

Portlander Dan Glennon gazed across the park after finishing the Joe Kollas Memorial Run. (See Sports, page A12 for the story.) He was in town to visit his sister, marking his 11th Fourth of July in Hood River.

“It’s so much fun,” said Glennon. “I prefer small town parades to big parades. You can get real close and enjoy the people of the town.”

Kirk and Paula Wessells were visiting from Vancouver, Wash., with Selby, their long-haired dachshund. It was their 10th Independence Day in Hood River.

“We’re here to visit friends and have a low-key Fourth,” Paula said. “You don’t have to battle the crowds here.”

“I grew up in a small town in the South, and Hood River offers a more traditional Fourth than Vancouver or Portland,” Kirk said.

They watched in amusement as Selby barked at and touched noses with Charbono, a llama belonging to Alison Lee, 11, of Parkdale. He was one of eight llamas appearing in the parade that belonged to members of the Mt. Hood Woolly Hummers club, a branch of 4-H devoted to preparing llamas for parades, petting zoos and other public appearances.

“We want to try to tell people about them,” Lee said. “Actually, this guy came up to me and said he really liked llamas and asked where he could get one.”

She lead Charbono from the Hood River Middle School lawn across the street to Jackson Park, where children crowded around the animal in awe.

“Go ahead, you can pet him!” Lee said. “Just pet his neck, okay?”

Across the park, Hood River resident Amanacay Maahs wandered past the carts of vendors who turned out for the celebration. Just as much as the out-of-towners, she appreciated the celebration’s atmosphere.

“I was born and raised here and I can’t imagine doing anything else,” Maahs said. “Plus I got a workout bending down for candy!”

She was in the park to see her friends Dawn Rand and Katrina McAlexander perform the National Anthem. She wasn’t the only one who showed up for the music. Dave and Jody Barringer brought their sons, Jason, 1, and Josh, 3, to the park to see Rand, their neighbor, perform. The Barringers left the Bay Area a year ago seeking a good place to raise their children, and this was their first Fourth in Hood River.

“We have this vision of what the Fourth of July is supposed to be like, and this matches it closely,” said Dave.

Under the baton of Sam Grotte, the Gorge Winds Concert Band finished their program with Sousa’s “The Stars and Stripes Forever” to cries of “Encore!” and McAlexander and Rand took to the stage to perform the Anthem.

Annie Simonds, executive director of Hood River Red Cross, made brief opening remarks thanking Hood River for its generous volunteers. McAlexander and Rand followed with “My Country ’Tis of Thee” and “America the Beautiful.”

In the upper valley, Odell residents enjoyed a parade of their own at 4 p.m., featuring flyovers by pilots John Roberts, Grant Porter, Joe Wampler and Robbie Graves.

“It was the best parade ever in Odell,” said resident Cathy Roberts. “There were so many people. Everyone was really into it, and there was a lot of home pride.”

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