by Deborah Steele Hazen
At the recent Clatskanie Middle School eighth grade promotion ceremony, Clatskanie Chamber of Commerce President Michael Clark presented a certificate and some Chamber Checks to Joseph Smart, the graduating eighth grader who was the author of this year’s Clatskanie Heritage Days theme: “It’s a Magical Time in Clatskanie.”
In presenting the award, Michael made a point of noting that some of the longtime Heritage Days volunteers are aging and/or burning out, and are beginning to back-away from the heavy burdens they have been carrying for years – in some cases, decades – to make sure that this community’s great summer-time celebration happens every year.
Clatskanie’s modern 4th of July celebrations date from 1959, when a parade, followed by a barbecue, in the park was held in conjunction with the Oregon Centennial celebration. There was a committee of primarily local business people, who planned the local Centennial observance, while the volunteer fire department organized the parade. The proceeds from the barbecue were donated to the swimming pool which was in its first full season of operation since being built in the wake of several tragic drownings the summer before.
Every 4th of July since then – to the best of our knowledge – different groups of volunteers in the community, including the Chamber of Commerce, the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars and their auxiliaries, the Kiwanis Club, the fire department, the Clatskanie Garden Club, the Masonic Lodge, P.E.O., the Clatskanie Arts Commission, Clatskanie Foundation, various youth organizations and faith groups; the Skirvin family, who have coordinated the logging show for 35 years, and, last, but certainly not least, the Clatskanie Cruisers Car Club, which, for the past 23 years, have had dozens of volunteers working for months to put on one of the best car shows in the Pacific Northwest.
The funds to meet the costs of the fireworks show, the parade trophies, the porta-potties and garbage, etc. come from proceeds of Heritage Days events and vendor fees, and donations from businesses, industries, organizations and individuals.
For a few years, in the 1970s and early ‘80s, every participating organization, including the city public works and police departments, park and recreation district, and the fire district appointed a member to represent it on the Heritage Days Committee. We thought that idea had a lot of merit, and it functioned well for a few years. Then, the habit of committing a representative to attend those meetings faded away, and just a few dedicated volunteers – some associated with various groups, others just private individuals – took over the responsibility.
In the early 1990s, that group began to burn-out. At the same time, the Clatskanie Chamber of Commerce, which had been in a period of dormancy for a few years, was reorganized and took on the primary responsibility for making sure that Heritage Days happens each year. But, it would not be successful without the participation of other groups and individual volunteers.
While most people think of the Chamber of Commerce as an organization of businesses and local public entities, the Clatskanie Chamber also encourages participation by all community organizations and individuals who want to cooperate together for the betterment and prosperity of the Clatskanie area.
Particularly, all interested are invited to become involved with the Heritage Days Committee, and local organizations are encouraged to plan activities to coincide with the annual 4th of July celebration.
It seems to us that we have written so much and so often about the need for volunteerism – not only for Heritage Days, but for numerous programs and projects in the community – that it must be common knowledge that more volunteers are always needed and wanted, but a recent conversation with someone who heard Mike Clark’s pitch for volunteerism at the eighth grade promotion, made me realize that there are probably willing volunteers out there. who just don’t realize they’re needed.
Believe me – you are needed. It might be a bit late for Heritage Days 2014, but please look over the various advertisements and articles about Heritage Days and take note of who’s doing what. Our guess is that they’d love to have your help.
And, if you don’t have time, but would like to make a contribution of any size, please see the form on page 2, or put some money in one of the donation cans around town.
What makes it a “magical time in Clatskanie?” Volunteerism – that’s what!