News, Springfield

Willamalane’s 75th Anniversary Community Celebration

Bayne Gardner, mural artist, is painting the commemorative mural for Willamalane’s 75th Anniversary on the back side of the swim center at Willamalane Park at 1276 G St., Springfield.

SPRINGFIELD – A giant Ferris wheel, axe-throwing and the unveiling of a new, interactive mural is set to shake up Willamalane Park on Sunday, Sept. 29, from noon to 6 p.m. as part of the recreation district’s 75th anniversary community celebration.
”This is our grand thank you to Springfield,” Kenny Weigandt, Willamalane Park and Recreation’s program manager and community engagement coordinator said. All attractions are free and Weigandt said the celebration will incorporate elements in remembrance of the former Springfield Broiler Festival, ”a historic event that Willamalane used to do,” he said.
The main attractions include amusement park rides such as a Ferris wheel, swinging ship and large slide. Additional attractions include face-painting, axe-throwing, a beer garden, music and food.
As a nod to the former Springfield Broiler Festival, ”we have contracted with the VFW to actually come out and they are going to be serving broiler chickens, which is another ode to our history,” Weigandt said. The VFW will serve full meals of a half-chicken with sides. At the Broiler Festival they had axe-throwing as a part of that event, ”so this a bit of a nod back to our history too,” Weigandt said.
Mercedes Russell, Springfield High alumna and superstar basketball player will be at the celebration to meet, greet and to sign basketballs.
Russell ”came up through Willamalane Middle School sports programs,” Weigandt said. When she graduated, she was a high school basketball player of the year and a McDonald’s All-American.
”She has made it all the way to the highest level with her profession,” into the Women’s National Basketball Association,” he said.
The interactive community mural is the big attraction. ”We wanted to use the mural to draw people in as our big thank you for this event,” he said. ”So the mural is one of the attractions to get people to experience everything else that we are (doing).”
The mural has been a year in the planning. After the unveiling, the community will have a one-time opportunity to sign the mural – a time capsule for many years to come.
The mural represents the strong relationship between Willamalane and the community: ”We wanted to create an interactive mural, so that it really felt like a connection to the community,” Weigandt said. It is ”60 feet by 35 feet, so it is humongous,” the first large-scale community mural of this magnitude at Willamalane.
The muralist, Bayne Gardner, left a section at the bottom where people can sign their name, draw a small picture, put a note to loved one or whatever they want to do with their small section of the mural. Permanent acrylic paint pens will be used for that purpose. ”When you are far away you can’t tell that there are individual signatures on it,” Weigandt said.
Gardner was the artist chosen for the project because they knew he could integrate a community- integrated design with their unique color palette by using the colors of the Willamalane logo, Weigandt said.
Gardner has a six-year professional history of creating murals around the Eugene-Springfield area, with about 50 projects that can be seen around the two towns. Some of these include Simpson characters throughout the alleyway of Main and A Street in Springfield, a large mural on the side of Imagination International on Chad Drive and a 2,000 foot mural running along the inside hallway of RiverBend’s pediatric MRI area.
Gardner said that the main challenge for the mural at Willamalane was preparing the surface of the split face cinder block wall, which had never been painted.
Gardner developed a technique that allows for sharper lines for the grand size he is painting, and used aerosol spray paint as his medium.
He painted the Willamalane logo as a flower and a bird interacting with the flower. ”I thought it would be fun to paint a 35-foot hummingbird,” he said.
After the community signing takes place along the bottom portion, the mural will be sealed with a special graffiti-resistant coating to protect, preserve and weatherproof it.
The total project took about a year for planning and problem-solving, a month for the actual design process and almost another month to do the actual painting, while also working around the weather, he said.
The park is located at 1276 G St. in Springfield. Event parking will be at 1650 Centennial Boulevard in the parking lot between Wells Fargo and Coburg Pizza Company. Shuttles to the event will be available. Gates open at noon and admission is free.
More info on the event: willamalane.org/district_info/75years.php.
More info about artist Bayne Gardner: [email protected]