A night out on the town
By the time everyone was settled in an ready to listen to some music Saturday at Aurora City Park, most had enjoyed a pleasant meal and some quality mingling.
At around 7 p.m. at the gazebo, Aurora Mayor Brian Asher took the mic for a few minutes to advise anyone with a touch of an appetite remaining, there was still food available. He also alerted that if anyone lost their "Star Wars" cap, it's been found and he had it ready to return.
"I want to thank every one of our volunteers, our city workers and each and every one of you who helped out to make this happen," Archer said. "Thank you very much. Now everyone enjoy Hit Machine tonight."
The popular Portland band was ready to entertain as scores of townsfolks sprawled out around the gazebo to take it in.
It was an important date for the community; sort of a scaled down version of Aurora Colony Days — no parade, and many other traditional attractions of past community celebrations. But a scant half-year earlier the park had been covered with wood debris left from the February ice storm.
"This is where community residents brought their debris from the storm," Aurora Fire Chief Joshua Williams explained.
"We had to hold it here until we could get it removed," City Recorder Stuart Rodgers elaborated. "It was quite a job to get everything hauled out and taken to the transfer station."
There was nary a hint of ice-storm damage Saturday. In fact, the iciest part of the premises were the shaved ice truck, a favored addition during the high-90s heatwave setting. The sprinklers that popped up for spells on the turf also proved attractive to that end.
Williams and his crew set up a cooling station as part of the event, which also featured the popular close-up look at public safety rigs and the equipment they deploy.
Marion County Sheriff's Office also held a stop adjacent to the fire department, to which the popular firefighters with all their nifty apparatuses would direct visitors so deputies didn't feel too lonely.
Perhaps the most popular attraction was Aurora's own Arlene Cuisine, who with an RSVP fed the community its free meal. Lines mounted and plates were carted to corners of the park, and even down neighborhood streets as some just stopped in the grab the bite to go.
For variety, Crust Wood Fired Pizza also offered a delectable option to the mix.
North Marion School District also set up a post. The rustic hub entity that educates Aurora, Donald, Hubbard and the surrounding region was on hand to offer water and a thank-you for the recent bond passage that provided the area's K-12 magnet a remarkable makeover.
Throw in an informational kiosk from the Aurora Community Preparedness Team, a Celebrate the Colony fundraiser and auction stop and the light setting was just about perfect for the berg's thousand or so residents. The event also doubled as Aurora's National Night Out, so a little badminton set up a couple of bean-bag toss options — ubiquitous NNO staples — and the setting was complete.
"It was very important to the (city leaders) that they could make this happen and get people out (visiting), especially after the year we've had," Rodgers said.
That thought was echoed by Williams and Asher both.
"We've done are part, but the city of Aurora really took charge of this and they've done a great job," Williams said.
As more residents drifted in — some on foot but many also filling out the parking areas around the park — and settled down around the gazebo as Hit Machine cranked up, the scene perfectly illustrated what Williams had described.
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