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A new tradition on the east bank of the Willamette River grows -- with new sights to see

DAVID F. ASHTON - Richard Cawley from Portal Arts Collective in Westmorelands Watershed Building tells visitors about the rotating fire pit he calls Cosmic Fire Turtle; the stainless steel globe is decorated with figures of endangered animals to help raise environmental awareness - as well as help keep people warm! The three-day Portland Winter Light Festival, held along and near the Eastbank Esplanade, showed off the imagination of area makers and creators – who were displaying their illuminated works of art, attracting thousands of visitors who braved the sub-freezing temperatures on opening night, February 7.

"This year – our fourth annual festival – more than 100 illuminated installations, artists, performers, interactive activities, and events brightened the cityscape, helping Portlanders escape the dark drab days of winter!" beamed festival spokesperson Michelle David.

DAVID F. ASHTON - Wheeling around mobile artworks were Richard Miner - with the Obelisk that provides the wisdom of the ages - and Tom Barnes with Jellyfish, inspired by his fondness of anime. "This free all-ages festival, an annual program of the 'Willamette Light Brigade', has expanded from the area near OMSI south to the Tilikum Crossing Bridge, and also to areas west of the Willamette River," Ms. David told THE BEE.

Sharp blasts of freezing winter wind didn't dampen the enthusiasm of people who came to enjoy the festival. Many found fire- and heat-oriented sculptures and locations particularly attractive places for spectators to linger.

DAVID F. ASHTON - Chris LohKamp, a mentor of Southeast Portlands Metal Beavers FIRST Robotics Team #1432, and partner Ryan Ramage, proudly show off their Dragon Twist Chandelier - which has been featured at Burning Man. Drawing interest and recognition from across the region, the artists were almost exclusively from the Pacific Northwest, commented Ms. David. "The combination of unique art installations, and family-friendly atmosphere, continues to attract visitors and artists to this show."

The festival continued for its full scheduled run, in spite of a "Winter Weather Warning" posted for the area. However, it did close two hours early, due to inclement weather, on February 9 – the final evening of the show.

Keep it in mind for next year; it's usually held on the second weekend in February. Learn more by going online – www.pdxwlf.com

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