Those glorious beards of East Multnomah County
November is a time when many men across the country forgo shaving for a good cause.
The idea behind "No-Shave November" was to increase cancer awareness and raise funds to support cancer prevention, research and education. Supported by a nonprofit organization, many communities and organizations host events to support the fight against cancer, while men go shaggy for the month.
Even though December marks the end of the effort, many local men's razors will remain tucked away in their medicine cabinets. These men proudly sport their magnificent beards year-round, including Brooklyn Sprauer, winner of The Outlook's inaugural "Best Beard" competition.
The Outlook is celebrating its community's bearded neighbors — from the burliest manes to stylish stubble. While we are thankful for the submissions we received, there could only be a select few featured in our publication. So we put together a panel of beard aficionados to judge the entries and crown our favorites.
Sprauer used to work for a business that required him to arrive each morning fresh-faced and clean shaven. Feeling stifled by the lack of facial-hair freedom, once Sprauer moved on to new employment he decided — on a whim — to grow a beard.
"I wasn't sure what I would think of having a beard, but I ended up really liking the look," Sprauer said.
The look stuck, even though it made him the black sheep of his immediate family regarding facial hair, as he is the only one with a beard. He didn't have any trouble growing his, and only uses shampoo and conditioner to keep its luxurious sheen. In the past, he has tried beard balm, though it wasn't for him.
The 24-year-old, who has lived in Gresham since 1995, is a Gresham High School, Dexter McCarty Middle School and West Gresham Elementary School alum. He said he never thought of submitting his photo to the beard competition and was pleasantly surprised when his fiancee, Misty Thompson, nominated him.
"I think he has a super majestic beard," Thompson said.
She has only seen her future husband without a beard once in the four years they've been together. A year and a half into their relationship, the couple took a trip to Hawaii, where they decided to go snorkeling. One of the requirements of that adventure was having to shave his burly beard.
"He looked a lot different without a beard," Thompson said. "It was strange to see."
She preferred the beard, as did Sprauer. Since that snorkeling trip he's been cultivating his beard, which now earns him the accolade of "Best Beard in East Multnomah County."
While in Gresham and other places in the United States, most people have muted reactions to his beard. At most he will hear someone compliment him on his facial hair. Though when the couple visits China to vacation and see Thompson's brother, Sprauer becomes an instant celebrity.
"In China, everyone wants to come up and touch my beard and take photos with me," he said with a laugh. "It was weird at first to have people stroke it, but you get used to it."
The best beard recipient has no plans to shave in the future, unless in the case of another surprise snorkeling trip. The length of his beard, which in parts stretches for a whole foot, is the longest it's ever been. While the facial hair will remain in place for all to see, Thompson said he may have to at least trim it for the wedding.
"Winning best beard sounds pretty cool to me," Sprauer said.
While we could only name one winner, these are our favorite runner ups:
Cody Hines, 32, Gresham
Occupation: Renovation tech
Hobbies: Disc golf
Started growing the beard: July
Beard Length: 6 inches
He said: "I started growing (the beard) just to see if I liked it, and now my wife says I can't shave it off. My dad always said, 'Happy wife, happy life.'"
Chuck Mayzak, 66, Damascus
Occupation: Retired information technology support tech
Hobbies: Music, computer games
Started growing the beard: Grew it long in the spring, had a short beard for a couple of years
Beard Length: 4.5 inches
He said: "(I like) how white it turned as I got older — it used to be red. Kind of like the Santa look."
Christopher Claggett, Gresham
Occupation: Middle School science teacher
Hobbies: Scottish Highland Games
Started growing the beard: October 2013, to get a head start on that year's No-Shave November
Beard Length: 9 inches
He said: "I have never received so many compliments for doing something that requires me to be so lazy.