October 1, 2011 marked 100 years and 2 days since the founding of Parkrose, now a neighborhood in northeast Portland. Hundreds of community residents came together to celebrate with a ceremony, unveiling of the Immigrant Statue at the corner NE Sandy and 98th, a parade for which I was honored to be the Grand Marshal, and cake and more festivities at the Parkrose Farmers Market in the parking lot of Parkrose High School. It was remarkable how proficient Parkrose schools Superintendent Dr. Karen Fischer Gray is at cutting large sheet cakes. I ended up covered in frosting from my less-skilled cake-serving efforts. Karen and others appreciated my care in wearing green and black, Parkrose Broncos colors, for the event.
Photo by Robert Wilson
The story of the Immigrant Statue, which I was honored to help unveil, is beautifully related on EastPDXnews.com by David Ashton. See here for images of the statue. At the ceremony, Commissioner Nick Fish gave a very gracious and heartwarming speech thanking everyone who was involved in the project.
Anna Song Canzano of KATU gave a wonderful invocation speech telling how she grew up in Parkrose, graduating from Parkrose High School after helping her parents run the Prestige Inn on Sandy Boulevard. She told about her experience at Parkrose High School with a construction bond measure that failed, then knocking on doors as a high school senior and persuading TV news cameras to visit the old school during heavy rains to film the buckets on the floor catching water from the leaking roof. The second bond measure passed, and the new Parkrose High School was built on land formerly part of Rossi Farms. I also heard Anna speak at the recent fundraiser for NAMI, an organization providing services and advocacy for people with mental illnesses, and she often gives her time and talents to other nonprofit causes, too. She is clearly a woman who cares passionately about the wellbeing of the people of Portland, and very inspirational.
Jaime Lim, publisher of the Asian Reporter and owner of First United Engineering which donated engineering work for the statue installation, was honored as the first Immigrant of the Year with the award of a trophy replica of the Immigrant Statue. Jaime, too, does so much good in so many ways in our community.
The Immigrant Statue project's instigator and the leader behind the Centennial celebration is Joe Rossi, whose family still farms in Parkrose after being moved out of the center of Portland when Ladd's Addition was converted from farmland to homes in 1900. Joe is a Portland and Parkrose leader whose humble and friendly approach to community support is valued by all who know him. I am glad I have learned more about the Rossi family's contributions to Parkrose and now to Portland through my frequent visits and membership in the Parkrose Business Association (Spirit of Portland Award winners in 2010).