Preparing for Parading

There are only three things you need to know about tomorrow morning’s “Celebrating Champions” parade. The first is that it will happen, rain or shine, and that you need to be there. I’ll tell you when, where, and why in a moment, but answering “Who?” is simple and direct. You.

Whether to cheer the Ducks or football or Eugene or none of the above, there’s good reason for you to bundle yourself and your children to celebrate our breadth of excellence. Joining the football team will be scholars, children, community leaders, creative businesses, and loads of musical talent from Eugene and beyond.

You already know about On The Rocks, television and youtube darlings that they are. (They will perform.) But did you know that University of Oregon has the top collegiate gospel choir in the nation? They will be there too.

The second need-to-know trivia item is hardly trivial. We all know about Eugene’s love for process, how we plan to plan and never do anything. We talk an issue to death, never taking even the first step. This event doesn’t fit that local cliche. Both the city of Eugene and the University of Oregon have deployed their own hurry-up offense to pull this off.

On Saturday, November 27, Eugene Assistant City Manager Sarah Medary attended the Ducks basketball game in Portland, fully a week before the Ducks were officially invited to play the Auburn Tigers for football’s BCS championship. A visitor from San Francisco was seated beside her. He asked whether planning had begun for a parade to celebrate the outcome of an event that hadn’t yet been announced.

Less than a week later, planning was well underway. Medary and UO Director of Community Relations Greg Rikhoff quickly received approval from the highest levels of both organizations. Each assembled teams of volunteers to do the heavy lifting.

Early one Monday morning, just days before Christmas, the planning committee assembled in the Yamanaka Conference Room at the Casanova Center.

The days ahead looked crowded: holidays, furlough days, the city’s State of the City address, and the opening of the Matthew Knight Arena. You could see this was adding a large project to two overtaxed staffs. Oh, and there was a football game still to be played, taking large chunks of the people involved away for a week in the sun.

“These are extraordinary times,” Rikhoff said proudly. “They require extraordinary effort.”

Mayor Piercy canceled a planned trip to Washington, D.C. for the Mayors Innovation Project, saying “If there’s an event in Eugene with tens of thousands watching it, I figured I’d better be there.” Extraordinary times.

Eugene police department planned the parade route and street closures, a process that normally requires months of logistics.

The parade was announced shortly after the game concluded, calling for entries conforming to the “Celebrating Champions” theme. More volunteers gathered two nights this week to choose the entries from over 75 applicants. The length of the parade was limited by estimated viewing time for young children on a winter morning, so difficult choices had to be made.

Now it’s your turn.

The parade will start at 10 AM at the west edge of campus (13th and Kincaid), heading north on Kincaid to 11th, then west on 11th to Oak, then north to the Park Blocks. The best spots for watching will be at Kincaid & 11th or from inside the Overpark lot on Oak Street. A program is planned afterward at the Park Blocks and details are available at www.eugene-or.gov/champions.

Don’t be tempted to skip the parade, and here’s why. It’s the third thing you need to know.

Auburn, Alabama has also scheduled their parade for tomorrow at 1:00 Eastern Standard Time. These two parades will be happening at exactly the same time. Their team may have bested ours on the football field, but our community can show theirs how to have a great parade.

We have an amazing array of champions to celebrate in this community — on the field, in the classroom and around the community. If you’re not already amazed by that array, you will be after watching the parade.

==
Don Kahle (fridays@dksez.com) writes a weekly column for The Register-Guard and blogs at www.dksez.com. He has been involved in the planning of the “Celebrating Champions” parade from near its inception.