Canbyites Turn Out by the Thousands for July Fourth Celebration

Canby Farmers Market organizer Alexis Purcell knew that Sunday’s super-sized July Fourth-themed market would be big. But maybe not “three-times-our-previous-attendance-record” big.

“It was amazing,” she said with a laugh Monday. “What a day! A lot of people. We’re thinking 3,000-plus. Our previous record was probably around a thousand.”

The event added half of North 3rd Avenue between Grant and Holly to its usual footprint. The remainder of 3rd, along with two blocks of North Grant, was dedicated to a car show organized by the Canby Area Chamber of Commerce, The Book Nook’s sidewalk sale and Ebner’s Custom Meat’s barbecue pit, forming an “H.”

Attendance at the Canby Farmers Market Sunday smashed previous records. Photo by Tyler Francke.

The result was a lively, bustling community event centered on Wait Park — the likes of which Canby had not seen the Light Up the Night Celebration in December 2019 — three months before the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Canby is back,” The Canby Current declared in its coverage of the event Sunday — and most seemed to agree.

“So thankful for today,” said Hannah Elise. “It’s the happiest I have felt in so long.”

Canby native Cathy Burdett concurred.

Many festival-goers were decked out in patriotic attire. Photo by Tyler Francke.

“So wonderful to be out and about, seeing faces and smiles,” she said. “I loved the farmers market, loved the car show, loved the live music. I got teary-eyed walking about town on this beautiful day.”

That live music came courtesy Brian Haines and his team at Canby Music, who donated their time, talent and equipment in providing four hours of patriotic stand-bys, classic rock, country hits, feel-good summer tunes and Haines’ trademark “Star-Spangled Banner” on the electric guitar.

“The Fourth was a great day,” Haines said afterward. “We were glad to be part of it.”

In contrast to the positivity of the Independence Day celebration in downtown Canby, Sunday night was a period many area emergency officials had been dreading — after spending much of the previous week urging citizens to forego fireworks due to record-breaking temperatures and other extreme conditions that had transformed the region into a tinderbox.

The concert by Brian Haines and his Canby Music crew was a highlight for many. Photo by Tyler Francke.

A patchwork ban on fireworks — even those normally legal in Oregon — had been enacted in parts of the state over the course of the week. They were prohibited in unincorporated Clackamas County on Thursday, but still allowed — though strongly discouraged — in many cities within city limits.

Canby, like most cities in Clackamas County, did not enact a ban but officials urged “extreme caution,” and Mayor Brian Hodson on Sunday morning asked citizens to refrain from fireworks.

“Please follow the warnings,” he wrote on Twitter. “I’m asking you to refrain from fireworks this year. If you choose to, use the legal ones, have water at the ready, do them on your driveway or in the street, and ENSURE YOU ARE NOT NEAR DRY BRUSH!”

A number of Canby residents headed next door for an impromptu fireworks show by the Molalla Buckeroo. Photo by Dave Jackson.

Despite the well-earned anxiety felt by fire safety officials, the fears in many places appeared to have been mercifully overblown. In much of the unincorporated areas surrounding Canby, the Fourth of July was the quietest in years.

And while a number of residents offered anecdotal reports of both legal and illegal pyrotechnics being used in neighborhoods throughout Canby, Fire Chief Jim Davis confirmed Monday morning that there had been no fires or other firework-related issues in their jurisdiction.

“Thanks to all the people of Canby for being safe,” Davis said.

The Buckeroo’s pyrotechnics were “fantastic” and “amazing,” according to Gordon Christiansen and Katerina Wert, two Canby-area residents who made the trip. Photo by Dave Jackson.

Other areas were not so lucky. Clackamas Fire responded to a small brush fire just before midnight and a large commercial fire early Monday morning on Southeast Fuller Road in Milwaukie — though it was not immediately clear if either blaze had been sparked by fireworks.

But at least one fire that was reported in Hubbard in Marion County was caused by fireworks, according to one resident’s account. Kennya Rayleen said an errant firework set a tree ablaze in her neighborhood on Dorsey Drive and Fifth Street.

“Unfortunately, my kids saw it first,” she told the Current. “They were scared. The whole neighborhood was on the streets. A lot of commotion.”

Courtesy Kennya Rayleen.

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