‘Time to break out of COVID mindset’

Washougal plans new summertime community events; Camas hosting movies, concerts at Crown Park

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Camas area families watch "Moana" at Crown Park in 2017, during the Camas' Parks and Recreation's "Movies in the Park" series. (Contributed photo courtesy of the city of Camas Parks and Recreation)

David Stuebe has been trying to help “revitalize” downtown Washougal and foster positive community engagement since being appointed to the Washougal City Council earlier this year. Now that statewide COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted, Stuebe believes the city and its businesses can’t afford to wait to take action.

“There’s a lot of people still in that COVID mindset (of), ‘I don’t think we can.’ It’s like they want to test the waters, and we don’t have time for that. We need to break out of that negativity, that scared (feeling), that fear,” Stuebe said. “We have to be respectful of our neighbors, and we have to comply with the rules, but the rules have changed now. I don’t want to be the last one to do (things). I don’t want to hear, ‘All of these other cities have done (things), so what’s Washougal going to do?’ The door is cracked (open), and I want to bust through. We need to get that momentum going or we’re going to lose a lot of opportunities.”

That’s why Stuebe is supporting the Washougal Business Association’s plan to present a series of free outdoor “movie night” events at Reflection Plaza this summer.

“(We wanted to) do something to bring people in,” he said. “This is the start. We’re opening the door. This is the first opportunity (since the start of the pandemic) to be back with our neighbors and back with the community and have fun. People have been locked up and closed down, and they’re angry. They’re not nice right now. I want to see people take care of each other. I want to see happy people and I want to see prosperity and I want to see community. We don’t have that because we’ve all been isolated.”

The first “Movie Night in the Plaza” begins at dusk Saturday, July 17, and will feature “Runaway Vacation,” a 2006 comedy starring Robin Williams. The WBA encourages attendees to bring lawn chairs or blankets, and will provide free popcorn and water. A KONA Ice truck will be on site from 8:45 to 9:15 p.m.

The WBA is planning similar events on Saturdays in August and September, on Aug. 21 and Sept. 18, and hopes to bring them back next year and beyond.

“We want to get people out and celebrate,” WBA board member Kathy Dering said. “(We wanted) to be outside, (get) people not so afraid of COVID and get people broken into social life again. This is our downtown trying to open its arms and say, ‘We’re breaking out of COVID, and

we want you to come back and be part of our community.'”

‘Summerfest’ set for next weekend

The Camas-Washougal Chamber of Commerce will present the first “Washougal Summerfest” from 4 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, July 23-24, at Reflection Plaza.

The 21-and-older event will feature live music, dancing, beer and other entertainment.

“With the state fully reopening at the end of June, the Chamber wanted a celebration as things return to normal,” Jennifer Senescu, the Chamber’s executive director, stated in a news release about the event. “We have been through a lot the past 15 months. It’s time to come together as a community.”

The chamber’s board of directors wanted to replace Camas Days with a smaller, hybrid event, Senescu said, but the city of Camas denied the group’s application. The group turned to the city of Washougal, where officials were more open to hosting a large outdoor gathering.

“We appreciate the city of Washougal’s flexibility and graciousness in approving this event so quickly,” Senescu said. “The Chamber’s involvement in Washougal is long overdue, and our entire board of directors is delighted that we are hosting an event to promote downtown Washougal.”

Camas also hosting concerts, movies in the park

The Camas Parks and Recreation Department will also host several in-person events in Camas parks this summer. Registration for the city’s first Concert in the Park, which took place Wednesday, July 14, which featured the Bigfoot Mojo band at Fallen Leaf Lake Park, filled up quickly, but there are other events planned in July and August.

On July 30 and Aug. 20, the city will host “Movie in the Park” events at Crown Park. There is no registration required for the city’s “movie night” events.

Camas Parks and Recreation also will host another Concert in the Park, with no registration required this time, on Aug. 12, also at Crown Park.

For more information about the Camas events, visit arksandrecreation.