The Year 2020 in 20 Photos

Veteran Community Remembers 75th Anniversary Iwo Jima

On Saturday, Feb. 22, the Canby veterans community and other supporters gathered at Ackerman and the Canby Adult Center for a moving and somber commemoration of the 75th anniversary of Iwo Jima — still the bloodiest single battle in the 245-year history of the U.S. Marine Corps.

In a later interview with Now Hear This: Canby, Gulf War Marine veteran and Canby/Aurora VFW Post 6057 Commander Martin Lackner vowed to continue the ceremony. “This story needs to be told,” he said. “And it needs to be told forever.”

More photos:

High School Presents ‘Little Shop of Horrors’

Legends tell of times, in the distant past, that people would gather in large spaces known as “theaters” and observe dramatic and comedic performances by other humans that would happen on stages — and not on computer and television screens.

Such occurred in early March, when the Canby High School Thespians presented their smashing production of the dark comedy classic Little Shop of Horrors, complete with a towering Audrey II. Catch our interview with the cast and crew here.


Nonprofits Grapple with Unprecedented Hunger

One of the many remarkable and, perhaps, under-appreciated stories from 2020 is how — when the pandemic truly hit home in March — nonprofits such as The Canby Center, St. Vincent de Paul Food Bank and Canby Adult Center quickly pivoted to serve the needs of hungry citizens that were two, three or even four times their usual demand.

In the case of The Canby Center, the nonprofit transitioned — virtually overnight — from a provider of a diverse array of programs and social services into a highly efficient machine dedicated to one goal: Keeping Canby fed. Hear more.

They accomplished this remarkable feat with the help of Canby Police (like Lt. Jose Gonzalez, pictured), Canby Fire, Clackamas County and many generous donors such as Willamette Egg Farms. More pictures from a drive-thru food distribution in March:

Hope on Wheels: CAC a Lifeline for Seniors

In that mix has also been the Canby Adult Center, which provides vital food, community and other services to a population that also happens to be more vulnerable to serious complications from the coronavirus.

With the leadership of director Kathy Robinson and dedicated volunteers like Judy Long (pictured), the CAC has navigated a challenging year with a smile and can-do attitude.

Hear our more recent interview with Robinson, reflecting on the Canby Adult Center’s unprecedented year: More photos:

Canby High School Honors Class of 2020

Speaking of challenges… As Canby High School teacher Bob Hammitt remarked during this year’s virtual graduation ceremony, the Class of 2020 took Senior Skip Day to a level never before contemplated and — hopefully — never seen again.

Seriously, though, the abrupt end to the school year in March meant the devastating loss of many rites of passage for Canby’s deserving students, and the community sought to find new ways to celebrate the senior class — including surprising them with these signs in the yard of each member of the Class of 2020 in May.

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Distance Learning Takes Over

While 2020 will be remembered for many things, those who happened to be the parents of school-age children during this time will no doubt recall it as the last year they ever took their kids’ teachers for granted.

During one of several “reverse parades” local elementary schools put on in their students’ neighborhoods in May, Canby City Councilor Shawn Varwig held up this sign — which speaks for all of us.

Revisit these words about the challenges of distance teaching — which local educators shared with us in April:

Columbia Distributing Begins Operations

In what would have easily been one of the year’s top news stories, the opening of Columbia Distributing’s massive, 530,000-square-foot beverage warehouse and distribution facility went virtually unnoticed.

The year also saw a bitter fight break out over a sizable tax break for the company — in which corporate officials appeared to have missed a deadline for the application — which was eventually settled when the City Council voted narrowly to send the request on to state reviewers, who approved it with little fanfare.

Revisit our interview with Columbia Distributing’s Andy Geisler and Lindsi Taylor — welcoming them to the neighborhood:

Class of 2020 Graduates Amid Pandemic

The 2019-2020 academic year wrapped up like they always do — with a high school graduation. But, in keeping with the year’s theme, it was a ceremony unlike anything you’ve ever seen.

This photo, from the high school’s drive-thru graduation/”socially distanced street party,” was another example of CHS teachers and administrators going above and beyond to make the senior class’s achievement memorable — despite the difficult circumstances.

Hear our graduation interview with Principal Greg Dinse: More photos:

Canby Holds ‘Black Lives Matter’ Vigil

The killing of George Floyd, who died after a former Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes while arresting him, sparked enormous protests and civil unrest across the nation and world — in big cities and in small towns.

In Canby, a crowd of approximately 200 gathered in Wait Park for a quiet vigil that included signs, candles and a nine-minute period of silence in which many knelt and some held their fists in the air.

More photos:

No Parade — but Plenty of Fireworks — on July Fourth

It was a July Fourth without Canby’s customary parade and Independence Day Celebration at Wait Park, but residents still found ways to celebrate their patriotism and freedom.

Some, like Kenny McRae and his daughter, Chrysanthemum, attended a larger-than-usual July Fourth edition of the Canby Farmers Market (which, by the way, had a banner year). Others waited until dark, when the rockets’ red glare lit the night sky and bombs burst in the air well into the evening.

Asked his thoughts of the many residents who took the pyrotechnic matters into their own hands that night, Canby Fire Division Chief Matt English summed it up with a laugh: “Sounded like the Fourth of July.”

Read more:

Staying Active in Summer of Corona

With many of the town’s signature events canceled this summer, residents found new ways to enjoy the sunshine and warm weather, taking advantage of such assets as the Molalla Forest Road Logging Trail and river access such as at Community Park.

More photos from this event, “Chalk the Church” at Bethany:

Athletes Face Tough Opponent: Covid Guidelines

Speaking of staying active, sports for high school athletes also resumed this summer, although severe restrictions remained in place for counties with high community spread (including Clackamas).

While some sports, like cross country and softball, could practice or even compete with few significant changes, contact sports looked very different. Just ask wide receiver Silas Wood (pictured), who practiced catching at Cougar Stadium this June — without the benefit of a football.

Read more:

Cultural Institutions Soldier On

The list of businesses, organizations and individuals negatively impacted by the pandemic and its associated restrictions would be a rather long one, but a few that seem to fly under the radar have been educational and cultural institutions such as the Aurora Colony Museum.

Without the ability to host guests and sell tickets, organize fundraising events or welcome school groups, most have had their operations virtually hamstrung through most of this year.

Yet, they and their dedicated volunteers like Spud Sperb (pictured at the Aurora Colony Museum during a visit by a reporter in August) soldier on, because their mission and the history they seek to preserve is bigger than a single year.

Read more:

Cruise-In Makes Drive-Thru Comeback

We had the fortune of reporting on some rare good news in July, as Frank Cutsforth announced the 26th Annual Cutsforth’s Cruise-In was being un-canceled — and would be held, in modified fashion, at the Clackamas County Fairgrounds.

While the beloved tradition reminded many attendees what they love about Canby and its unique spirit of small-town Americana, it also signaled a larger renaissance on the part of the fairgrounds, which ended the year with several large and successful drive-thru events — and a brand-new feature.

Read more: More photos:

On with the Show: Fairgrounds Opens Drive-In

For the members of the Clackamas County Fairgrounds Board of Directors, 2020 was to be the first year enacting their recently approved master plan mapping out the future of the events center in the heart of Canby.

Suffice to say, things didn’t quite go as they had (master) planned. Running an events center during a year in which large events are prohibited is no easy task, but staff adapted and, in September, dedicated one of their signature triumps: a brand-new drive-in movie theater for the community of Canby.

Read more:

Red Skies over Canby as Fires Rage

Of all the sights and sounds of 2020, perhaps none will live on in the memories of Canby residents as vividly as those dull red skies of the second week of September.

This photo, taken at Langdon Farms Golf Club in Aurora of photographer Erica Ann Bader and her three boys, David, Levi and Joseph, encapsulates the fear and determination so many of us felt as historic wildfires — sparked and fanned by the Labor Day wind storms — raged across Clackamas, Marion and Polk counties, destroying hundreds and homes and forcing thousands to evacuate.

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Heroes Battle Historic Wildfires

Standing between these towering columns of flame and the communities in which we live and work were the firefighters. Some of them careers, some of them volunteers, some of them civilians, just doing what they could.

This photo, of exhausted Molalla firefighter Eric Aleksich catching a few minutes of sleep, tells you everything you need to know about the work these heroes put in our behalf.

Revisit our interview with Clackamas Fire Capt. Brandon Paxton amid the wildfire crisis:

Canby Declares Support for Police

Often appearing under the banner of the “Back the Blue” movement, several large events were staged in Canby this year in support of law enforcement, as continued protests across the country — and, particularly, in Portland — pitted demonstrators against police officers, sometimes resulting in violent clashes for both sides.

At this one in October, Jean Bremer embraced a “Thin Blue Line” flag as she spoke emotionally of the way law enforcement had intervened in an unimaginable tragedy for her family: the quadruple homicide by Mark Gago in January 2019.

Read more:

Election Brings Record Turnout

Say what you will about the coronavirus pandemic — but it did not stop anyone from voting. Indeed, more than 260,000 Clackamas Countians — almost 85% of registered voters — turned out before Nov. 3 to exercise their right to choose their leaders.

Turnout outpaced that of previous years, as voters seemed eager to have their voices heard, and ballots flooded into county elections offices (pictured). This was fortunate, as it gave elections staff (pared-down, due to the pandemic) more time to prepare ballots for processing.

With four of six seats on the Canby City Council up for grabs, and with six candidates having thrown their hats into the ring, it was a unique moment for Canby voters to weigh in on the future of their community.

Revisit our interview with Clackamas County election officials hours before the polls closed Nov. 3:

Santa Stays Busy, Roots for the Beavs

Finally came Christmas. With no Light Up the Night, Breakfast with Santa or other traditional events, you may think Canby’s Santa (also known as Ed Grautski) would have an easier year.

But he stayed busy, participating in the Community Food & Toy Drive drop-off events (pictured), Winter Fair, virtual Light Up the Night, and the Canby Center’s “Christmas Parade”.

More photos:

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