RG08.4 how we welcome visitors

Imagine you’ve never been to Eugene. You fly from far enough away that it makes sense to land in Portland, spend a day there and then drive a rental car south. You follow the highway signs from I-5 to reach downtown Eugene after dark. As you wend your way toward downtown over the Ferry Street Bridge, you need a place to stay. Fortunately, straight ahead of you, dominating downtown’s southern skyline shines the bold, bright neon of the Eugene Hotel. It says, as well as anything does, “Welcome to Eugene. We’re happy to be here. We’re not so sure about you.” As a prank, the sign is perfect. It works only on people who have no place to stay. Only newcomers would care whether the Eugene Hotel does what hotels do. Those of us who live here never notice. But then, having 8-foot tall letters shining PEACE ON EARTH down on City Hall every year just before the November elections hasn’t seemed odd to us either. Maybe it’s because we live in a state that placed the city of North Bend 225 miles southwest of Bend.