Taking the reigns
Linda Parker is not normally one who jumps at the chance to don a prom dress and exercise her regal wave. However, her generosity surely is a quality befitting a Sandy Mountain Festival queen.
While many queens in the past have reveled in the pomp and circumstance of the Five Generation Court, 68-year-old Parker plans to reign in true Nettie Connett-inspired style. She promises to refrain from bringing any rifles or dead cougars on her ride through the festival parade, but her carriage itself will be unique. Parker will ride in a 1953 Ford pickup, escorted by her sons, rather than in the usual Corvette.
"It's got more meaning to me than a Corvette," Parker explained.
Parker grew up on the Cloud Cap Dairy Farm in Boring. As a child, going to Sandy was "going to town."
"The people" in the area have kept Parker in Boring.
"They're really nice, caring people," she said. "It's a great place to have kids, and you don't have to look very far if you need help."
Multiple members of Parker's family have served on the court, including her mother-in-law, Joan Parker.
"She was a stellar example of what a good citizen is," Parker noted.
Her love for the community is lifelong, but she didn't really get involved with the festival until she was in her early 40s.
For several years, Parker coordinated the Thursday parade.
"Somebody needed to do it," Parker noted modestly. "We've gotta have one of the best parades for a small town. Everybody loves it. There's not anything more loved in the community. It's such fun working with the Sandy Mountain Festival people."
In recent years, Parker has passed on her knowledge and control of the parade festivities and taught several volunteers the tools needed to keep it going into the future.
For Parker, teaching is second nature. She taught fifth grade for the Oregon Trail School District for 29 years, educating multiple generations of Welches and Firwood students.
"It's the best job ever, but when my kids got to be that age I couldn't do it day and night," Parker said. While her sons were growing up, Parker acted as a soccer and baseball coach, Boy Scouts leader and a Sunday School teacher. More recently she has made multiple efforts to help the Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon by helping trap cats that came to her property so they could be spayed and neutered.
"(Volunteering) makes you feel good," Parker noted. "You feel so good having done it."
Parker will be escorted by her sons Ben Durbin, or "Adventure Bear," and Joe Durbin, or "Care Bear," and her son Marcus Parker will drive the truck in the parade.