1992 FILE PHOTO
Creswell volunteer firefighters and residents check out the new fire engine purchased in 1992.
Story By Catherine Russell
The Fourth of July has long been a day when we take time to remember where we came from and how we got here, and a day when we salute the efforts of those men and women who have served our country in uniform as well as those who keep things moving in local and national government and civic services, from elected officials to first responders. It’s when we rub elbows and share a picnic lunch with neighbors we haven’t seen in ages, when we all ignore how many pancakes Uncle George scarfs down at the community breakfast, when no one denies the kids that second scoop of ice cream, and when it’s OK to get soaking wet in the spray from a passing fire truck on parade.
It’s safe to say that no Independence Day anywhere in the world is quite the same as a smiling, sunny, summery, family-centered American Fourth of July – and few celebrations have ever rivaled a Creswell Fourth of July.
For 30 years, since 1992, the Independence Day celebration in Creswell – particularly the parade – was a shining example of what can happen when a community sets aside differences, whether real or perceived, and comes together for a moment of shared happiness at the start of summer.
Unfortunately, coming now as we are out of a pandemic year like no other, much of what made the Fourth of July in Creswell so special for so long remains on hold, and will have to wait there until the community is soundly safe and Covid is well behind us.
But memories of Creswell parades past remain vivid, and they speak not only to pleasures of days gone by, but to what a renewed Creswell independence event might look like in the future.
South Lane Fire District’s trucks are a mainstay.
Up in the air
Memory can be a funny thing, and depending on whom you ask, you will most certainly get differing details about exactly how the Creswell Fourth of July celebration and parade first started.
While the stories differ – and they do – there is no real deep-seated conflict, nor are there dueling claims of provenance. Mostly, everyone remembers that ever since that brand-new, shiny-red fire truck rolled through town on July 4, 1992, the event had always been one heck of a good time in Creswell, a super-duper, old-fashioned Fourth of July.
But, to back up a minute, the Creswell Air Fair had, either formally or informally, been taking place in summer for decades before that, right? Yes, the fair was a proud piece of local history by the time Shelly Humble first came to be the airport manager at Hobby Field Airport out on Melton Road. She inherited the history of the air fair but not the fair itself – though she delighted in the idea – because the fair had long since faded by the time she arrived there in 1997.
Still, Humble has become a guardian of an unofficial archive of the history of Hobby Field, the people who built it, and the air fair, and she understands how the air fair itself eventually withered.
“The biggest problem with the air fair is that they never made any money,” Humble says. Not that making money was ever the point, Humble says, but that events need to be supported by community investment, and the air fair came to be too expensive to support.
EMMA ROUTLEY/THE CHRONICLE
Shelley Humble, Hobby Field Airport manager, saw the parade take flight.
Dr. Richard Page, who had a decades-long dental practice in town until his retirement in 2012, also serves as an informal source for local history. Page was himself involved in the evolution of the various summer celebrations in Creswell, as a result of his membership in the Chamber of Commerce, and he pretty much agrees with Humble on the demise of the air fair.
Page notes that the fair had, in fact, gotten larger over the years, more complex, and more professional. But that growth worked against it in the late 1980s. Though Page doesn’t remember the exact year, he does remember that one summer they were “completely rained out,” and the then-expensive event went belly-up. “That was the end of an era,” Page remembers.
Some in town, like Page, remember the air fair as connected to the Creswell Fourth of July celebration, or that the former led to the latter, but Humble remembers otherwise, that the two events were always totally separate.
But just because their memories differ and the air fair was no longer flying, that didn’t mean that either Humble or Page would be checking out from summer events in Creswell. Hardly. Back to them in a minute.
It started with a firetruck
Meanwhile, way back in 1973, Dan Moore had come to Creswell as a teenager from, he says cryptically, “somewhere south.” Dan’s wife, Laurie, is more specific: “Quite a bit south,” she says. “He’s a Californian.” Dan is quick to inject that he has been well and proudly “Oregonized” in the time since.
Laurie, on the other hand, had grown up in Eugene, and eventually met Dan while both were working in Creswell. She married him, despite his dubious “southern” roots, and by the early 1970s the Moores were settled in Creswell, starting a family, with Dan doing what he loved, farming. Laurie had started off in retail, at the family business in town, auto parts, and eventually began working as an accountant. Oh, and Dan was also a volunteer firefighter in Creswell.
This is where that fire truck comes in.
According to Dan Moore, in early 1992, the Town of Creswell “had passed a levy to buy a new truck” for the fire department. Brand-spanking new, “the first one they bought in 20 years,” and, he says, “the first ladder truck they ever had.”
Dan was designated along with fellow VFD firefighter Paul Furrer to travel to Florida in June of 1992, where the truck was being built, and where they could oversee its final details and plan the logistics for the truck’s delivery to Oregon.
Back in Creswell, and according to Laurie Moore, “there had been other events in town around the Fourth of July, but there wasn’t a parade or anything, and so the idea was to present the fire truck to the town, and to thank the town for voting to allow the purchase of the truck.” A Fourth of July parade featuring the new truck would be just the ticket.
Problem was, no one was sure whether the truck would show up in time.
CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO
Who doesn’t love a parade?
The firetruck had to make its way across the country, then through Portland for the addition of some extra gear, but eventually the VFD and the Moores felt certain it would be in Creswell prior to the Fourth, so Laurie got busy from her perch at the auto parts store.
“Customers were coming into the store,” she says, “and we’d say, ‘Hey, you have this great car. Would you like to join the parade?’” They also got busy calling other fire departments to see if they’d like to join in, and told almost everyone in town about the plan while the fire department buffed and shined every truck in the Creswell fleet.
Come July 4, 1992, they had pulled together a parade that included trucks from Creswell and from fire companies in Coburg, Pleasant Hill, Eastern Lane, Lane Rural, Fern Ridge, Crow Valley, Santa Clara, Western Lane, Lorane, and more. There was also a color guard presented by the VFW, along with vintage cars, hay wagons and logging trucks and hot rods. Local merchants marched along, with lots of local kids piloting go-carts and bicycles. That first parade lasted maybe 20 minutes, by Laurie Moore’s estimation.
At the time, Clint Fisk was fairly new to town himself, having moved to Creswell in 1990 to begin work as a system administrator for what is now Creswell Health and Rehabilitation Center, but he was already involved with town events. Regarding that first parade, he says, “There wasn’t any great plan to have it every year or anything, but they had this great fire truck and they were proud of it.”
The idea of a Fourth of July parade stuck, and a tradition was born.
A family plan and a community project
Jessica Landstra is Dan and Laurie Moore’s daughter. She wasn’t around when it all started, but her mom remembers some of her daughter’s first years with the parade.
“She had very sensitive hearing,” Laurie Moore says of Jessica. That’s maybe not the best thing at the Fourth of July, but mom had it figured out. “I remember sitting in a fire truck instead of being outside,” Laurie smiles as she says, “with my hands over her ears through all the fireworks.”
None of this dimmed anyone’s family enthusiasm for the holiday or the parade, because, after all, not all kids like noisy fireworks. And kids do grow up, in Jessica’s case to become the founder of Farmlands Market in Creswell, starting in 2014, filling what she calls “the grocery void” in town. As a local merchant, she has proudly supported the parade all these years, after a bunch of years when she was part of the parade itself.
“It was just a part of our lives growing up,” Landstra says. “All the people on the fire department, all of them were a part of it, all the volunteers were a part of it. Every single truck through it every single year.”
Richard Page heaps credit from his memory on the Creswell VFD as well. “The fire department and crews basically grabbed hold of the parade and made a wonderful, well-organized, well oiled machine,” he says.
It grew from there.
In subsequent years, Laurie Moore says, “We actually had people asking us when it was getting close to the fourth because they had had a lot of fun with it and there were people who wanted to have cars in it. There were groups that wanted to be in it. There were kids that wanted to be in it. And so the fire department had agreed to go ahead and sponsor it, and it had just kinda ended up that we were the lead family in it.”
The Moore family was so deep into planning the parade, in fact, managing the event year after year, that they often missed having a sideline seat for the parade itself.
“I have not watched a lot of them,” Jessica says. “I’m not going to lie that I remember everything, but the one part I always liked was the fire truck that they use specifically in brush fires and actually had a water spout on the front of it, and they would stop and turn it on, and it was almost at a sprinkler setting, and…”
Well, where there’s water, kids will want to get wet – and they did. There were times in later years when some people – well, let’s say “grownups” – got wet when they’d rather not have, and were “getting drenched on the sidelines,” according to Richard Page. Page agrees with Laurie Moore about the water effects, though, when she says that basically “people loved it.” But she adds that they did have to “tighten the reins when some people started getting a little bit carried away with it.”
CHRONICLE FILE PHOTOS
Even parades grow up
Over the years the Creswell Fourth of July parade evolved, capably managed by a growing community group, a 100%-volunteer army of sorts, led mostly by Dan and Laurie Moore. For his part, Dan jokes that most years they started stacking up entries for the parade as early as June. “Yeah, June for the following year,” he chuckles.
Meanwhile, tandem community events were growing alongside the parade, including a breakfast and a Fourth of July festival in the town park. Page credits community effort behind these events as well, noting that “it takes planning, lots of meetings and volunteers, some money, and lots of coordination between the various entities to pull off what has been accomplished in the past.”
All the while, the parade held to a core philosophy of inclusion, according to the Moores. “The basic tenets were that we did want it to be fun for everybody. We wanted kids to be able to be in it. And so we decided that there was not ever going to be an entry fee. That was one of our big pushes.”
To offset some of the costs of staging the parade, which seemed to increase each year, the Moores mustered sponsorship from local businesses, often from those off the beaten path. According to Laurie, they had a banner created by Rainbow Graphics each year with the names of the supporters proudly displayed, and that banner ran through the parade route – twice.
Clint Fisk remembers the direct community fundraising as reaching across all of the Fourth of July events. “They raised the money,” he says, “through the donations and the big picnic and breakfast and the park to pay for the fireworks.” The accounts for the parade remained separate, he remembers. “We had people that did a real good job managing that.”
It took a few years, but Shelly Humble started pitching in beyond the airport, getting her feet wet with the breakfast. “I have been part of the Fourth of July celebrations since 2001,” she says, “minus a couple of years after I retired from the (Chamber) board.”
It wasn’t just day-of, though, Humble points out. “We had to do fundraising. We always did a fundraiser over Memorial Day, selling hot dogs so that we had enough money to pay for the fireworks. We did T-shirts. We did buttons. It was a lot, a lot, a lot of work.”
And then on the big day, Humble says, “I would start setting up for breakfast. My volunteers would come at 6:30. We get breakfast wrapped by 10:30. The parade started at 11. We were lucky to catch a glimpse of the parade as it went by while we were finishing cleaning up the park from breakfast, getting rid of the tables, getting the hot grills out of harm’s way so that the vendors could have the rest of the day.”
Years later, Dr. Sheri Schlorman, of Creswell Veterinary Hospital, took over managing the breakfast. “I don’t even remember what year it was that I took over organizing the July Fourth breakfast from
Shelly Humble,” she says, “though I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of it. I would start in April and have everything pre-organized for the next year by the middle of June.”
Since starting Farmlands Market, Landstra, too, has been in on the breakfast. “I helped supply a ton of the ingredients for that breakfast,” she says. “I stored the ham and sliced all of it for them; things like that.”
The Chamber of Commerce was always involved in the overall event, according to Clint Fisk. “A lot of work went into putting the lines down from where the booths went, helping people know where to go, keeping order and all that kind of thing, just generally being around to help in any way we could.”
Meanwhile, the Moores worried about the parade.
Horses? Yes, but with horses, naturally, comes manure. Parade poop scooping? Check. And animals can be frightened of vehicles and loud noises, so no horses in front of the fire trucks. Check. Some of the big, long trucks and trailers couldn’t make tight corners, so the route would be adjusted. Then there was the Corvette club that, as Dan Moore remembers, once enthusiastically promised something like 20 cars – and showed up with 30.
It was all planning. According to Laurie Moore, most years she and Dan would literally write the name of each parade entry on a piece of paper, then juggle them into good order by sticking the slips of paper to their big living room window and moving them around until it felt right.
CHRONICLE FILE PHOTOS
Americana at its best
Fisk notes that together the events “were just able to keep kind of the old-time feel, you know. Almost anybody could be in the parade. And we sure had a lot of different kinds of things in the parade. Never know what you’re going to get … all kinds of different entertainment from year to year.”
There were downsides, of course. Those who didn’t want to be sprayed by fire trucks, or who worried that the candy being tossed out by passing parade entries would draw kids into the line of traffic and an accident would ensue. Nothing so unfortunate ever did happen, but Richard Page does remember one unhappy kids’ moment.
“One of the most popular things was we would hire a balloon clown every year,” he says. “But we only hired her for two hours, and the problem we had was the line,” because everyone loved the balloons. It became a part of Page’s official duties to be “the Grinch Who Stole the Balloon Lady,” because he had to cut off the line when those two hours were up. Bummer.
Still, each year, the Creswell Fourth of July celebration was all about the atmosphere, which seemed to happen as if by some kind of community magic. Landstra remembers exactly that. “On the Fourth of July, we would come across hundreds and hundreds of people that we knew, enjoying themselves, literally saying hi to people we may not have seen or talked to since last year.”
“Oh, it was the place to be in Oregon,” says Shelly Humble. “We’d get 10,000-plus people that had heard about it. I mean, we had people come from New York because they knew people from Oregon that said, ‘You know, this is really the best place to be for the Fourth of July. It’s hometown Americana.’ You come here, they’re three-feet deep watching the parade. And then there were events in the park all day and fireworks at night. It was just a really neat celebration that showed how great Creswell was.”
Politics and the passing of time
After many successful years, maybe around 2015 or ’16, logistics and a bit of politics came into play. According to Laurie Moore, the parade “was getting so big that we had to have more help … since they were doing the park and the fireworks and stuff.”
She says that the change was gradual. “Everything kind of went with the program and you adjusted to it every year, and then there was a call to make a lot more rules. Overall on everything, not just with the parade … there just got to be so many more rules to try to contain the larger crowds.”
Humble, who surrendered her breakfast duties a few years ago, muses, “I don’t know if it was just a change of time. I don’t know. I don’t know the ins and outs, but it wasn’t like its heyday was 30 years ago, when it was at its best.”
That heyday? “You kind of dropped back into the 1950s,” Humble remembers, “where everybody was, you know, on their best behavior. They were honest. They looked out for each other. They were just having a really good time listening to the bands, listening to the entertainment, spending time with their families … people were always so gracious. The lines were long, but people didn’t care … there was no alcohol. There were just people hanging out, having a good time. And just to see that come off without a hitch, with no issues. We always did 700-plus breakfasts. I mean, in two and a half hours. That’s a huge amount of breakfast that you put in!”
EMMA ROUTLEY/THE CHRONICLE
Laurie and Dan Moore, with grandson Jackson, were leaders of the parade.
Somehow, according to Laurie Moore, the changes “just kind of got to where it was taking some of the fun out of it, making it more of a business deal than just community fun. Then a decision was made that the Chamber would charge for people to enter the parade.
In Laurie’s mind, that had been the one thing they always said they would not do, they would not charge to participate in the parade.
“It was always community involvement first,” Jessica Landstra says. “That’s what we wanted to promote, the family environment … and that got kind of taken away. That’s when we really decided to step back and say, ‘OK, you know, this isn’t what we wanted anymore. You guys go ahead and do your thing. And if you need us, you know our number. We’re not going anywhere,” she adds with a genuine smile.
“That’s when it was OK to let somebody else take it over,” says Dan Moore.
You never know when it will be the last time you do something; that’s life. The Moores’ direct involvement with the parade ended well before the Fourth of July celebration suffered from lockdown and the necessary cancellations we’ve all had to endure with Covid, but their memories, like those of so many others, endure.
Could the celebration come back to life? Laurie Moore thinks it could. “There’s a lot of community interest. I just think it would have to start on a smaller scale again so people can have some semblance of control and not have everything get out of hand … I think keeping it with everybody together, it doesn’t matter who you were, what you were doing or anything else. Everybody always just came together. And that’s what I would want it to be.”
When life as a full-time veterinarian got too busy, Sheri Schlorman, too, stepped away from the breakfast. “I gave my two-year notice that I wanted someone else to take over and I would train them, but no one stepped up. It was time to hand it off to someone else. Then of course Covid happened, which cancelled everything.” She says she still wakes up at 4 a.m. on July 4, out of habit, ready to be at the park by 5 a.m.
CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO
“I hope the breakfast can be resurrected in the future,” Schlorman adds. “I will share what I did in the past. I did miss seeing everyone last year, but I didn’t miss the exhaustion the event came with. This year I’m going camping with my dogs and will probably make pancakes, eggs, ham, strawberries, orange juice and coffee for my breakfast.” Kind of like breakfast in Creswell.
Clint Fisk was mostly an organizer in the park over the years, but remembers once or twice being in the parade itself. “I mostly just liked to watch it. You’d see people you haven’t seen sometimes in years, because it’s a real gathering place for Creswell as well as, of course, a lot of people from out of town. And that was really special. You may not see a person for years, but there was a good chance you’d see them on Fourth of July in the park or at the parade.”
“It has to do with family and friends and people enjoying the fact that we can celebrate the uniqueness of America,” says Richard Page. “But it was that nature of who we are as a country and that we can celebrate the wonders of what makes America America. I think we should frame it that way.”
Shelly Humble confirmed there will be a flyover this year at the airport with military jets and “our group of guys at the airport will do their own personal flyover.” There will be a “static display” at the airport as well, along with free hot dogs and sodas, thanks to local donors. It will be in the spirit of the original Creswell celebration, but still a shadow of that bigger event, Humble acknowledges as she remembers the heyday.
“It was just neat to see us all come together,” she says, “just people looking for a great celebration of what we are. We’re the greatest nation. I mean, we’re free. We’re able to do this. We have no fears about celebrating our independence.”
For her part, Jessica Landstra of course grew up and out of her mother’s lap, becoming a business anchor in the community, but first she graduated to participating in the parade herself.
“As I got older,” Landstra says, “I would take my own thing,” often a bicycle or a go-kart, and she’d go through as part of the parade. And then she’d loop around and “come back and actually go through with my parents at the very end.”
Yes, Jessica ran the parade loop twice, but it’s a good bet that she is not the only Creswell kid who figured out a way to have a second run in the parade over all those years.
Now, maybe after a few years of rest and a quiet 2021, Creswell can have a second run at the parade itself, perhaps with a renewed, rejuvenated Fourth of July celebration for 2022. Chances are, the Moores, Landstra, Fisk, Page, Humble, and Schlorman will pitch in to help, along with others in the community. Volunteers, anyone?