‘Light of Liberty’ rocks Island Park

Photo by Lillian Stafford

Photos by Bob Williams

Whether it was the guitar strains of Spooky by famed Southern rock band Atlanta Rhythm Section, peels of laughter from the kids’ zone, or the familiar boom of fireworks high above Island Park, the raucous sounds of Springfi eld Utility Board’s (SUB) July Fourth Light of Liberty Celebration confirmed that a wonderful time was had by all. Silent, but nonetheless important, were the tens of thousands of dollars raised from the 17th annual event’s proceeds that will help fund the utility bills of low-income Springfi eld residents. Started in 2005, SUB’s Project Share has helped thousands of residents needing assistance with their energy costs. “We call it a party with a purpose,” said Meredith Clark, Community Relations Manager with SUB. “It’s our way to both give Springfield a great party on Independence Day, but also to help some of our customers pay their bills. It’s a win-win for all.” The crowds of people who descended on Island Park would certainly agree. Sisters Millie and Tassie Dorn enjoyed the food and couldn’t wait for it to get dark so they could see the final crescendo of fireworks around 10 p.m. — a sentiment shared by many. “It’s pretty much perfect weather and so good to see people out and together after all this time,” said Zak GosaLewis, SPD public information officer while off-duty, enjoying his time at the park. “There has been sort of a pent-up demand to get back to stuff like this; it feels good.” And there was indeed quite the demand, the gates opened up at 4 p.m. but patrons eagerly lined up hours before. The line stretched over the length of a city block. Jossalyn Bowbon said this was her ninth year in attendance, and she waited for two hours to be the first one through the gate. “I’m happy to see so many people here,” event organizer Gregori Hayes said at the event. “The line went all the way to Mill Street and I am actually worried that we could hit capacity; we’re playing it by ear because people cycle in-and-out and we really don’t want to turn people away. The park holds 6,000 before it gets hard to move.” Under clear skies in the afternoon and cloud cover at night, the Light of Liberty Celebration featured not only the headliner band Atlanta Rhythm Section, but local bands Olem Alves & Inner Limits and Sol Seed as well. On the south side of Island Park, a huge kids’ zone treated youth to activities including face painting, arts and crafts, games, obstacle courses, juggling, balloon twisting, hula hooping and pony rides. The zone also featured great STEM education activities and an exciting demonstration from the South Eugene High School Robotics team and the Eugene Science Center. “The kids’ zone is my sentimental favorite,” said Clark. “I remember bringing my son Andrew to the STEM area years ago where he was fascinated by the aviation wind tunnel – and today he’s a pilot!” The day ended with a gorgeous display of fireworks reflecting off the Willamette River while synchronized music filled the park with an exciting patriotic atmosphere. While SUB’s Light of Liberty event is Project Share’s main fundraiser, SUB receives donations for the program year-round. Anyone can help low-income Springfield residents with heating emergencies by making a tax-deductible donation to Project Share. Both monthly pledges and one-time donations can be added to your bill. Monthly pledges can be for a recurring dollar amount, or you may donate your change by authorizing SUB to round your bill up to the next even dollar amount. Go to customer-service/account-services/payment-assistance/ to find out how.



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