Aug. 1, 2018 — Florence celebrated its 125th year as an incorporated city last Friday with a block party on Bay Street. More than 1,500 people attended the event, set in front of the Siuslaw River Bridge, to hear live music, take their picture, enjoy activities and eat free BJ’s ice cream.
“Hello, everyone, and welcome to the City of Florence celebrating 125 years,” said City Manager Erin Reynolds. “Let’s give a round of applause to the city, and thank you all for everything we’ve done.”
She told attendees about many of the events going on between Laurel Street and the bridge on Bay Street, primarily centered around a stage set in front of the Siuslaw River Bridge Interpretive Center. These included booths from Florence Public Works, Florence Police Department, Florence Community PTA, the Florence Area Chamber of Commerce, Siuslaw Vision 2025 and the Siuslaw Public Library.
Pressure Point Band, based in Portland, Ore., provided a mix of classic rock, favorite oldies and new pop favorites for the crowd, which frequently broke into spontaneous dancing.
On the rest of the block, area first responders brought vehicles for youth and other attendees to explore. Siuslaw Valley Fire and Rescue’s ladder track displayed the American flag high above the other activities, including an ambulance from Western Lane Ambulance, a patrol car from Florence Police Department and 29-foot small response life boat from U.S. Coast Guard Station Siuslaw River.
Oregon Coast Military Museum also had one if its military Jeeps on display.
“There are quite a few activities around the block,” Reynolds said. “There’s a photo booth, and it is staged with the bridge right behind you in the view.”
At the BeauxBooth photo booth, people were able to take four snapshots, made into a strip, which they could then take home. The booth provided props, wigs, hats and other silly accessories, as well as banners commemorating the event.
Other activities included the Historic Scavenger Hunt through Old Town, facilitated by the Florence Area Chamber of Commerce, giant games of stackable bricks, a bouncing house and rock painting.
Florence Mayor Joe Henry also spoke from the stage.
“I want to thank everyone for coming out to our block party this evening,” he said. “Everybody is represented — we have all of our first responders and our Coast Guard. We have a lot of fun activities going on, and a lot of great music from this band. … They’re doing an awesome job.”
Henry welcomed the event’s guests and sponsors, Florence City Councilors and the 70 visiting mayors who attended the Oregon Mayor’s Conference at Florence Events Center and Driftwood Shores Resort and Conference Center from July 26 to 28.
“The event was nice to have in town,” he said. “There are 270 cities in Oregon, and this is the second time in recent years we’ve been able to hold this conference in Florence. They all love to come out to the coast.”
The mayor’s conference covered several issues, and included a tour of Florence locations that show how the city is working to improve livability and quality of life.
In addition, neighboring Dunes City, along with Mayor Bob Forsythe, hosted a Mayor’s Roundtable for mayors in Lane County.
“It was just a beautiful dinner,” Henry said. “They really put on a nice event for our local mayors.”
He added that he heard many positive comments from the visiting mayors about the Block Party.
“They were all so thrilled with the 125th Block Party, our staff and our community,” Henry said. “It was the first time in a long time that we’ve closed off a street for an event like this, and people already want us to do it again!”
For the Block Party, Oregon Pacific Bank and KCST/KCFM Coast Radio sponsored the live music; Banner Bank sponsored the ice cream from BJ’s Ice Cream; Siuslaw News sponsored advertising for the event and created the City of Florence 125th Anniversary special section; and the Kiwanis Club of Florence put out American flags in Historic Old Town.
“This evening was made possible by a lot of hard work from many groups of individuals,” Henry said. “The Old Town merchants and restaurants have been very supportive of this event with the street closure, and many of them stayed open late, including all these shops — not just here but on down the street and on the side streets.”
He then thanked the hundreds of people who attended and worked for the event.
“A very special thanks to our city staff who have been working for three days to put this event together, along with the Oregon Mayor’s Conference, and a big thanks to our Public Works Department, which actually did all the heavy lifting here,” Henry said. “Without them and all their hard work this week, this celebration would not have been possible.
“We hope everyone enjoys attending our 125th anniversary in Oregon’s Premier Coastal Community. Now let’s get back to the music.”
In the final song of their first set, members of the Pressure Point Band sang, “You are the best thing that ever happened to me.”
The song was appropriate for the occasion, representing Florence and the community that has kept it moving forward for more than 125 years.