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Tuesday, June 05, 2007
Down by the river
Like moths to an overpriced, carnie-filled flame, a colleague and I found ourselves at the Washington Mutal Waterfront Village/Fun Center on Friday night. This year's version deviates a bit from its predecessors. For example, the army, through some sort of sponsorship, has managed to set up a large kiosk right at the front entrance near the old McCall's Restaurant. There's nothing that says "100th anniversary of a family-friendly civic festival" like a military-sponsored, digital "Kill a Varmit" shooting gallery complete with comical sound effects.
No, really, the game is called "Kill a Varmit." Now that's what I call propaganda.
Meanwhile, as in past years, the Marines are still stuck on the other side of the gate with a small tent and their two-story drill sergeant balloon. Maybe they'll have to step up their efforts with a Baghdad-themed paintball course next year. Or perhaps Humvee bumpercars? Or a "Toss a Ring Around a Bottle, Get a Lucrative $2.4 Billion Rebuild Contract" game. I could keep going but the jokes would just get lamer.
Further in, we found more of the same. Same old Ferris Wheel, same old skee ball gallery, same old crowd of bickering families and bored teenagers. Why did we go? For the fireworks and the return of the "Interceptor" (AKA the Lady Washington), one of the ships used in the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie.
When we arrived, its crew was hard at work staging a "battle sail" with another ship, and possibly also several smaller boats manned by drunk yuppies, near the Hawthorne Bridge. This year's Fun Center also offers a pirate-themed sideshow featuring exotic birds- exotic birds that refused to return to their trailer afterwards. As their frustrated keeper, dressed in full buccaneer regalia, tried to get two of them down from a tree, an unattended parrot started biting a woman's arm. Now that this bird has a taste for human flesh, dare we trust him?
There was also this mannequin near the bird show. I'm not sure if he's supposed to be a pirate or a roadie for the latest incarnation of T-Rex.
And, returning from last year and who knows how many years before that, a Bourbon Street funhouse. You know, for kids.
A large crowd was already holding their spots two hours before the fireworks finally filled the sky over the poo-filled waters of the Willamette. A brief swelling of civic pride engulfed my little, black heart...that is until I looked over my shoulder and spotted a bored Johnny Depp impersonator reading a magazine and eating a slice of pizza on the "Meet Jack Sparrow" stage. You can't please everybody, I guess.
But enough about the 100th Rose Festival, what about the 75th one?