This past Saturday, August 8 WACAI participated for the first time in the Willamalane Children’s Celebration. This annual event is traditionally held in person every August at Day Island Park in downtown Springfield, but due to the physical distancing regulations this year’s event was done in a drive through format at Dorris Ranch. Dorris Ranch is a national historic site, a living history farm, and a public park complete with walking trails and natural areas. The park is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is a beautiful area of open space combined with tress and other local foliage of all kinds. This year’s event was done in a “reverse parade” fashion where pairs of cars visited ten different stations spread across the property to enjoy a two-minute presentation before rolling on to the next spot. Presenters consisted of performers like WACAI and puppeteer, Noah McLain Philpot from the Lane Arts Council’s roster and community organizations, like the Springfield Public Library who dressed in fairy tale costumes and gave books away to the Springfield Fire Department who gave demonstrations in fire safety and prevention using simulated flames.
The event which ran from 10 am-12:30 pm entertained a total of 150 vehicles filled with children and their families who arrived in pairs at each station and processed on a dirt road through the long loop of the ranch. WACAI was stationed at a wonderful shady spot just on the edge of a fabulous Filbert grove and enjoyed performing in this unique style which was a creative solution to holding the celebration in the midst of a global pandemic. It was super fun for WACAI to perform 2 minutes of powerful drum rhythms to a “new” audience every few minutes, see the excitement and enthusiasm on their faces as they drove up, and recognize several of their previous students from the Art-in-the-Schools residency work they do in partnership with Lane Arts Council. Children were given swag bags which were stocked with fun toys, and other festive gear, including shakers that allowed the kids to jam alongside of us. Sarah Amoson, Willamalane’s organizer of the event was very please with the turn out and participant response saying, “We saw so much joy expressed by the guests as they watched the incredible performances and took home the goodie bags that we filled with all the wonderful activities, treats, and valuable information that sponsors and presenters provided. You are all a huge part in what makes our community incredible, and we cannot thank you enough coming out to support Willamalane and the Springfield community in offering this event!”