For the past 6 years, April has been a month of great anticipation in Congress Square Park. Each year, our dedicated park volunteers come together after the cold winter months to wipe away the winter grime, clean out the flower beds, and get the Park ready for the upcoming season of art, eating, movie-watching, gardening, dancing, lounging, and above all — gathering with our friends and neighbors.
This April, we have found ourselves in uncharted territory as all of us deal with stay-at-home orders, homeschooling, isolation, and threats to our health and livelihoods.
As a result, Friends of Congress Square Park has decided to cancel all scheduled events at least through the end of June. We are also postponing the return of amenities like tables, adirondack chairs, and benches, likely until the end of June as well. We will work closely with the City of Portland and the Parks Department to determine when it is safe to bring back amenities and resume programming.
We know that for many of you, the Park is your outdoor living room and urban oasis. While the Park won’t be quite as colorful at least for the beginning of the season, we are committed to keeping the Park clean and working on the gardens so there will be natural beauty and color to brighten your day as you pass by or step outside for fresh air.
Together, over the past 6 years, we have created a beloved community gathering place – a place where neighbors can feel engaged and have fun. We’ve shown that well managed public spaces are essential for our mental and physical well-being, and that vibrant public places promote equity, improve community resilience, and strengthen local economies. The current physical isolation and business shut-down reinforces all of these lessons.
While we are forced to hit pause on our 2020 programming, please know that we are thinking about you and that you are not alone. We hope that the friendships and memories you have made in the Park will help to sustain you during this difficult time. We will be working on ways to bring some of those memories, art experiences, and social connections to you through social media over the coming weeks, so please stay tuned.
We will continue to work behind the scenes to plan for future programming and expand our organization’s capacity. Above all, we commit to continuing to care for this gem at the heart of our city so that it is ready to welcome us all back together as soon as it is safe to do so. Until then, thank you for being part of our park community.