Spring (no) fever
The last 12 months has been one of the roughest years in most people's memories. But, with better weather peeking through, more folks getting vaccinated and other buoyant signs, more and more people are feeling optimistic.
"People's attitudes are improving when they come in," said Tricia Hooley, who was bustling around getting iCandy in downtown Gresham open for customers.
"People are definitely more hopeful," she said.
"Things are looking up. The sun is shining. Bingo is starting at the Elks," said Betty Chisum, an Elks member and community volunteer.
That's a big change for many. Things have been pretty grim.
More than 2,365 Oregonians lost their lives to COVID-19 and more than 161,700 were infected with the virus. People lost their jobs, businesses and some were thrust into poverty.
Children were stuck learning at home, isolated from their friends and teachers. Older folks missed family gatherings, seeing grandkids and other activities.
Proms, graduations, weddings, funerals and other milestone events were canceled or altered beyond recognition. Wildfires ravaged parts of Oregon and many struggled without power during an icy winter storm.
The difficulties are far from over, but COVID-19 deaths and infections are trending down. People are getting vaccinated. Businesses and schools are cautiously reopening. A few festive events are being marked on calendars again.
And it's spring. Daffodils and cherry blossoms are quivering in warming breezes. Easter, the most sacred and hopeful time on the Christian calendar, is at hand.
Terry Sprague, working on the new Wood Village City Hall, said, "I see the light at the end of the tunnel."
He's had his first vaccine dose and his wife has an appointment for hers. The duo had their wedding reception in the old Wood Village City Hall and he's looking forward to a big anniversary party when the new building is completed and the pandemic is only a memory.
"I'm cautiously optimistic," Sprague said.
Gresham wildlife photographer, Carol Zyvatkauskas said, "I love this time of year when all the old gives forth to fresh new life. In just a few weeks, we'll have ducklings and bunnies galore."
Chisum said the Gresham Elks in-person bingo has returned at 7 p.m. every Thursday at the Lodge, 3330 N.E. Division St. Of course, masks are required and it will be socially-distanced.
"We are looking to hire a cook at the Elks," Chisum said. When a cook is hired, the Soroptimists and the Rotary can start meeting again, she said. And, she added, people are getting vaccinated.
"At 90, I am thrilled to death that I can start seeing people again," she added.
Alan Dayley is feeling especially hopeful. Last year he was ready to launch a parking and shuttle service in the Columbia Gorge, called Sasquatch Shuttle, to make life easier for hikers and others. But the company's plans were put on hold because of the COVID-19 lockdowns.
"We're uber excited because we're now able to open for business," he said.
Sue O'Halloran, a principal broker and co-founder of the Kohler Meyers O'Halloran real estate firm said she's "encouraged" and things are picking up in her world.
"Businesses are making inquiries" about available commercial space, she recently told folks at a virtual coffee meeting of the West Columbia Gorge Chamber of Commerce.
Fairview City Councilor Wendy Lawton said, "I'm really looking forward to spring. Things seem to be moving in the right direction."
Easter treats are drive-thru
The traditional Easter Egg hunts will be altered again this year, due to pandemic safety protocols. Kids won't be dashing about hunting for eggs, but the bunny will come, nonetheless. These local events are being held Saturday, April 3, the day before Easter.
- Fairview's 2021 Easter Drive-Thru will take place from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, April 3, at Reynolds Middle School, 1200 N.E. 201st Ave. Treat bags will be handed out. Questions? Contact Devree Leymaster at 503-674-6224.
- Wood Village is also having a drive-thru event from 9:30 a.m to noon Saturday at the Wood Village Baptist Church, 23610 N.E. Arata Road in Wood Village. Like the others, this will only run as long as supplies last.
- The Gresham Elks Lodge is holding a drive-up/walk-up Easter Egg Event from 11 a.m. to noon Saturday, April 3, at the lodge at 3330 N.E. Division St., in Gresham. Festive goodie bags will be handed out to each child while supplies last.
- The Kiwanis Club of the Columbia Gorge will have it's annual fundraising pancake breakfast and Easter egg event on Saturday, April 3. Funds raised at the breakfast go to scholarships for local high school students. The pancake breakfast will be from 8-11 a.m. Adults are $6, children 4-12 years old are $5 and children under 4 years old eat free. The breakfast is at the Sam Cox Building in Glenn Otto Park, 1102 E. Historic Columbia River Highway, Troutdale. The breakfast will follow all pandemic protocols for social-distancing and limits of six people per table.
Kids can get candy goodie bags from 9-11 a.m., but the traditional egg hunt is paused for the pandemic. There will be 150 food boxes for struggling families available from 9-11 a.m. courtesy of SnowCap Community Charities.
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