Chamber of Commerce, historical society want to bring community together through event

This story was updated from its original version

With events like Fun in the Park and the Summer Concert Series canceled, Wilsonville residents might be wondering if there will be much to do around town this summer.

Such people might be in luck. There is an event coming down the pike to spark excitement even amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Wilsonville Chamber of Commerce and the Wilsonville-Boones Ferry Historical Society are in the beginning stages of planning a car parade on Fourth of July that would run on public streets throughout Wilsonville.

"The heart behind this is we're trying to bring some joy and positivity into the community," said historical society member Carrie Postma.

The parade will include the participation of local businesses, which can sponsor a vehicle for $50, and community members, who can drive in the parade for $5. Proceeds will go to the historical society.

Representatives from the Wilsonville High School Class of 2020 will serve as grand marshals in a float dedicated to the class, and the Wilsonville City Council will be invited to participate.

The parade will begin and end at Safeway on Wilsonville Road and will be available to watch via livestream. The groups also are inviting local dealerships and a former World of Speed group to provide vehicles. In addition, there will be a school supply drive. The parade will not include marching or animals that are outside of a vehicle.

"Like any Fourth of July parade, it should be about the Fourth of July and country pride. But because it's a unique year for us, this will probably be the only real way to celebrate during the summer and (where) we can come together as a community," said Wilsonville Chamber of Commerce CEO Kevin Ferrasci O'Malley.

Postma said the plan is for the parade to run through most neighborhoods in town.

"The thought behind it is to bring the parade to people rather than people coming to the parade," Postma said.

The parade was born out of separate ideas from the two event organizers. The chamber of commerce was drumming up ways to better connect the business community with local residents and groups, and started the group We Are Wilsonville to foster that initiative while the historical society was planning a parade in 2021.

Ferrasci O'Malley reached out to the historical society to see if they would collaborate and the group agreed.

"It's a good example of why we put this group (We Are Wilsonville) together," he said.

The city of Wilsonville said it would require a special use of streets and sidewalks permitting process, where organizers will gather information about potential impacts. Wilsonville City Manager Bryan Cosgrove also recommended organizers enlist police to serve as escorts and help guide traffic.

"We would handle it with a soft glove," Cosgrove said of the event. "We want to make sure what they're doing from a celebration standpoint wouldn't cause a car wreck or something like that. We would want to work with them."

One question parade organizers are mulling is whether it's OK for individuals to gather on sidewalks and streets to watch the parade. The current Clackamas County guidelines prevent crowds of more than 25 people. If the county enters phase two of reopening, that number shoots up to 100.

Ferrasci O'Malley surmised that they could spread groups out across various areas in town to limit group sizes.

"Since we don't know the guidelines yet from the governor, the outdoor activities' guidelines are a work in progress," he said.

They also are planning to meet again with the police department to talk about traffic impacts.

"If we had a lot of people who want to do it, we want to make sure we're not creating a traffic challenge that's not manageable," Ferrasci O'Malley said.

And normal parade fare like passing out candy, balloons and flyers might not be a part of this event, Postma said.

"We don't want to create problems, but we do want to create joy," she said.

Pamplin Media Group will provide updates as the group continues to flesh out the plan for the event.

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