July 4th Parade 07

Parade founder Lori Rentz dresses as Lady Liberty for the annual Fourth of July parade in Corvallis.

ROSE (roz) n. One of the most beautiful of all flowers, a symbol of fragrance and loveliness. Often given as a sign of appreciation.

RASPBERRY (raz’ber’e) n. A sharp, scornful comment, criticism or rebuke; a derisive, splatting noise, often called the Bronx cheer.

We hereby deliver:

• ROSES to the organizers and participants in this year's All-American, Everyone-Can-Join, Fabulous, Fantastic, Fourth of July Parade, which marched through downtown Corvallis on Thursday for either the 30th or 31st time (but who's officially counting?).

The parade, which (as advertised) allows anyone to join in, this year attracted an estimated 800 participants who walked, pedaled and drove east on Monroe Avenue to the riverfront, then turned south on First and Second streets to the skate park, covering a little less than a mile in a little under half an hour. The parade typically draws folks from 92-year-old World War II veteran Bob LeBlanc, who led the crowd in a chorus of the national anthem, all the way to young children in a variety of costumes, including, this year, a dancing tennis ball.

Lori Rentz founded the parade (she swears this happened in 1990) as a family jaunt around Central Park. She still participates each year, dressed as the Statue of Liberty.

Steven Black, who took over as the parade director years ago, quickly doused any controversy over whether this was the 30th or 31th go-round.

"It doesn't really matter," he said.

And he's right: What matters is that the parade goes off each year. This is the kind of quirky event that helps give a community an identity. This is precisely what people mean when they watch this parade or the kinetic sculptures of da Vinci Days (to list just two examples), shake their heads, smile and say, "That's so Corvallis." We would hate to be in a community that didn't have events like these, so our thanks go out to Rentz, Black, all the participants and all the onlookers who turned out Thursday. We can't wait for the 31st (or 32nd) edition.

Speaking of events that help shape communities:

• ROSES to Albany's River Rhythms, which kicked off its 36th season Thursday evening with a show that included a concert by the Baha Men (best-known for "Who Let the Dogs Out") and fireworks. Albany's Monteith Riverpark, with its gentle slope down to the Willamette River, is an ideal location for the concert series, which draws folks from throughout the mid-valley, including Benton County.

The event has grown to the point where a typical River Rhythms evening will attract 10,000 or so people to the park; on those occasions when lightning strikes and a musical act was booked right before it had a big hit or became more famous (think Andy Grammer or The Dixie Chicks or Sugarland), the event can draw 18,000 or so people.

In many ways, though, the music is just an excuse to gather in community on a pleasant summer evening. And that, it seems to us, is the real benefit of the festivals and the fairs and other events that help to make summertime special in the mid-valley. 

River Rhythms (or any county fair or any community festival or parade) gives us an opportunity to shake up the rhythms of our daily routines. We can meet up with friends we haven't seen in months. We can make new friends. We can treat ourselves to a food item that, frankly, we shouldn't be eating at every meal, but once a week won't hurt. We can recline back in a chair or on a blanket and gaze up at the summer sky, something we don't spend as much time doing as we should. 

And we can dance. That also is something we could stand to spend more time doing.

• ROSES (or RASPBERRIES) to Gov. Kate Brown. It's her call. In an interview this week with Oregon Public Broadcasting, Brown singled out Senate Bill 761 (mentioned this week in another editorial) as a bill that made her "grumpy." Senate Bill 761 would make it more difficult for citizens to qualify an initiative for the ballot. 

The bill, which passed the Legislature on its last day, bars initiative supporters from handing out copies of electronic signature sheets to Oregonians to sign and submit. Instead, voters will have to print their own forms or personally ask someone to print one for them. And each signature sheet must include the complete text of the proposed measure.

It's a shame the bill passed the Legislature. But Brown can earn ROSES by vetoing it. (mm)

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