As the sun crept above the trees shading Wilson Park Saturday morning, a crowd of nearly 40 people gathered to chat, sing and begin a one-mile walk through city neighborhoods.
The “Peace Walk” was part of the week-long series of events organized by Columbia River Fellowship for Peace to commemorate 9-11. Participants — ranging from the elderly to toddlers in strollers — sang songs at the park and selected flowers to carry from jars set on picnic tables. Then the group set off to walk to Overlook Memorial Park downtown.
Organizer Theresa North came up with the idea for the walk when the Fellowship was planning the series of events, called “From Ground Zero to Common Ground.”
“I was trying to think of things that we enjoy in our country,” North said. “One of the things we get to enjoy is walking through quiet neighborhoods.” The Peace Walk offered a way to celebrate that, she said, while acknowledging that many people in the world don’t have that simple luxury.
As the group walked west on Montello Avenue, then down the steep 7th Street hill, they sang songs. People doing morning yard work greeted the walkers; others waved from passing cars.
Karen Murphy-Mendez of Hood River pushed her 2-year-old son, Diego, in a stroller.
“I’m just here to make a statement for peace in the face of all that’s going on,” she said.
Among the walkers were Lou DeSitter of Hood River and Paul Woolery of White Salmon, both of whom were participating in the 9-11 memorial fast, and hadn’t eaten for seven days.
“It’ll be okay going downhill,” Woolery said. “But I’m not coming back up.”
At Overlook Memorial Park, the group sang more songs while kids played in the fountain.
“It was really sweet,” said participant Mark Nykanen, who walked and sang with his wife, Lucinda Taylor, and their 4-year-old daughter, Anika. “I had tears in my eyes.”