May 19, 2021 — Florence Area Chamber of Commerce’s Rhododendron Festival, usually an annual event, was cancelled again this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, some elements of the weekend still took place on Saturday, May 15, as people honored the event’s 114-year history.
The morning began with the Rhody 5K/10K Run-Walk, which took place at the Florence Events Center. More than 100 people participated in the event, with all ages of runners represented.
The sunny weather and the return of an in-person activity made for high spirits and lots of smiles being shared by runners and the support team from Eclectic Edge racing, which oversaw the race. All proceeds from the U.S. Track and Field-sanctioned race will benefit Florence Habitat for Humanity, which helps the Florence community in the areas of job training and creating affordable housing for low-income level households.
A complete list of finishing times and winners is available at eclecticedgerecing.com.
During a year when more formal Rhody Days events are held, vehicles make up a big portion of the festivities. This year featured a new way to incorporate cars with the Rhody Days Poker Run, which featured classic cars, motorcycles and other automobiles.
Five nonprofits were the beneficiaries of the event: Florence Food Share, Florence Habitat for Humanity, Food Backpack for Kids, Oregon Coast Humane Society and Oregon Coast Military Museum.
“We were able to donate $200 to each of the five non-profits, in addition to an average of $159 that they reported receiving at their on-site stops,” reported Oregon Coast Military Museum Committee Chair Gary Cargill. “This will help the non-profit community which has struggled financially during this past year.”
People came from out of town for the event, joining local participants Rhody Cruisers and Florence Jeeps R Us.
“The event was intended to provide a little normality to our community on Rhody Days, and judging from the vintage cars that participated, several from out of town, it was a success,” Cargill said.
Beyond the poker run, Bay Street and Historic Old Town Florence were packed to the brim with motorcycles, who have visited Florence for the Rhododendron Festival weekend since the 1970s.
Florence Area Chamber of Commerce, which sponsors the Rhododendron Festival, posted about the weekend on its Facebook page.
“We couldn't do our annual Rhododendron Parade again this year, but our faithful Ambassador Mike Bones kept up the tradition in a one-man Rhody Parade,” the post stated.
In addition, the iconic and colorful rhododendrons that inspired both the festival and the City of Florence’s tagline as the “City of Rhododendrons” have been bursting into bloom all over the region. This prompted the Siuslaw Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society to hold a plant sale at the Florence Municipal Airport last night.
Rhody 5K/10K Run-Walk
Hosted by Eclectic Edge Racing
Top Female Finishers in the 5K:
1 — Marley Petrey, 13, with a time of 21:22.6
2 — Willow Bacon, 51, with a time of 26:14.4
3 — Ann Lacouture, 42, with a time of 26:23.7
4 — Nicole Machado, 26, with a time of 27:44.2
5 — Abby Jones, 12, with a time of 27:45.0
Top Male Finishers in the 5K:
1 — Alan Porter, 64, with a time of 21:32.4
2 — Robbie Garcia, 42, with a time of 22:17.9
3 — Austin Gruenemay, 13, with a time of 25:47.8
4 — Brian Gruenemay, 41, with a time of 25:51.2
5 — Patrick Sneddon, 12, with a time of 25:55.6
Top Female Finishers in the 10K:
1 — Alexandra South, 27, with a time of 51:56.1
2 — Natasha Colson, 31, with a time of 56:17.0
3 — Rocky Masin, 60, with a time of 56:32.1
4 — Amy Stroh, 44, with a time of 57:32.2
5 — Celeste Kuta, 64, with a time of 1:00:57.1
Top Male Finishers in the 10K:
1 — Karl Smith, 28, with a time of 40:28.4
2 — Jerry Roberts, 68, with a time of 41:34.2
3 — Joseph Shepard, 17, with a time of 44:05.0
4 — Nathan Pfaff, 17, with a time of 45:30.7
5 — Kyle Clarke, 45, with a time of 47:28.6
Learn more at eclecticedgerecing.com.