By Nancy Varekamp | CNews Editor
Every September thousands of Portlanders arrive on wheels to ride the 7.6-mile loop of city streets that connect four Concordia-area parks in NE Sunday Parkways.
They return Sunday, Sept. 22. Neighbors move their cars to where they can access them on other streets, or they simply plan to be part of the annual event between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Rebecca and Nick O’Neil on Ainsworth Street, and Nell Westerlund and Bryce Tolene on 37th Avenue didn’t realize they’d be on the route when they bought their homes five and four years ago, respectively.
“We’d lived in Portland 20 years and participated in some of the Sunday Parkways around town,” Rebecca said. “But being on the route came as a surprise, a welcome one.”
“We were excited when we realized it,” Nell recalled. “We have always participated in Sunday Parkways in some form, changing every year as the kids’ abilities grow.”
Last year her children drew bike art in the driveway. This year they plan to sell vegetables from their garden after they finish their own circuit of the loop.
Rebecca’s and Nick’s daughter was born shortly after they moved here, and each year pictures record her maturing – from a bike trailer, to training wheels and last year to just two wheels.
Friends participating in the event – and even ones who don’t – gather in the O’Neils’ front yard to watch and to interact with passersby.
Before and after their own ride around the loop, the O’Neils’ daughter sells lemonade, or gives away flowers and fruit from their garden.
The story’s much the same for the Westerlund/Tolene family.
“We embrace the event by having a party in our front yard,” Nell explained.
“It’s become like a holiday tradition. We let our friends know we’ll be out front if they want to stop for a drink or a snack and, as a bonus, we always get to see people we didn’t know would be out biking. We flag them down, and they join the party.”
This section of Concordia also gets plenty of traffic in the spring and summer since Fernhill Park – with its egg hunt and concert series – is only a stone’s throw.
“We see those as more opportunities to take the event and expand on it since we live so close,” Nell reported.
Rebecca agreed. She and Nick invite friends from outside Concordia to the park events.
“It’s a statement of how the neighborhood is so desirable, since our friends like to come and experience it with us.”
Editor’s note: Click here for details about NE Sunday Parkways and the route.
Nancy Varekamp is semiretired from her career in journalism, public relations and – her favorite work engagement – writing and editing targeted newsletters.