Another notable new festival in Portland has a successful second year

DAVID F. ASHTON - Visitors took shelter from heavy rain showers as they walked through and admired this sculpture in front of the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. The heavy rainstorms sweeping through the area on the first four evenings of February didn't stop Portlanders from heading out to the second annual Portland Winter Light Festival, held near the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.

The idea is to illuminate Portland's east bank of the Willamette River – "brilliantly awakening the city in the dark of winter into a glowing tapestry of light, color, artistry", according to a poster for the outdoor festival.

In OMSI's front plaza, the sight of a huge "fallen robot" called "Mechan 9" – which had first appeared at this year's "Burning Man Festival" – captured the attention of all who passed by. "I considered that a good way to display a robot would be to have it fallen, but still alive, partially buried in the ground," said its creator, Tyler Fuqua. "It's an image that evokes mystery."

After volunteering about 1,000 hours for last year's inaugural Portland Winter Light Festival, the now-Managing-Director, Michael "MJ" Joyce, said that he and other supporters worked throughout the year to present the second festival February 1-4.

"It's a lot of fun; it's an exciting and charming sort of event," Joyce told THE BEE.

More than 50 artists and performers participated in this year's festival, with displays running along the river pathway from the OMSI campus south to the Tilikum Crossing transit bridge – with a few displays on the west bank of the river as well.

"We've met our goal of creating a free event, open to the whole community, with an atmosphere that is really delightful, unthreatening, and welcoming to everyone," Joyce smiled.

"People who come here are invited to participate with the interactive displays, or to dress in lights – so, it's more than just being a spectator going to a parade, but also jumping in and being part of it."

With the success of the second annual Portland Winter Light Festival in spite of this year's rainstorms, Joyce says he expects interest and involvement to only continue to grow. "Our volunteers donate thousands of hours to their project and to the festival, and sponsors like Portland General Electric help pay the bills.

"I believe this will become an annual event that becomes an internationally-recognized festival," Joyce said.

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