Grapes will hop for St. Urho's

Horned helmets, giant grasshoppers, pitchforks, Black and Decker drills, purple underwear and grapes will be worn, carried, presented, activated and thrown (not necessarily in that order) on March 16 when the annual St. Urho's Day celebration returns to Hood River.

Participants will gather at 11:30 a.m. at Northwest Auto Parts in the Heights where the parade will begin. In the ceremonious staging area of the auto parts store's south parking lot, last year's queen, Alice Swyers, will crown her successor from the Royal Court: Princesses Bertie Downing, Ruth Hukari and Mildred Alajoki.

The parade, led by Grand Parade Marshall Rep. Patti Smith (R-Corbett), will then proceed downtown to City Hall for the traditional "Changing of the Guards" at approximately 12:20 p.m.

The theme of this year's parade is "Proud to be American and Finnish too in 2002."

"St. Urho's Day is thoroughly off the wall, tongue-in-cheek fun and has become a tradition in Hood River," said coordinator Camille Hukari. The celebration has been held in Hood River since 1981 in honor of Urho, a Finnish hero who, with the aid of a pitchfork, successfully banished the grasshoppers that were destroying the grape crops of Finland across the sea to Ireland.

"The day, March 16, was deliberately selected by American Finns in an effort to upstage St. Patrick's Day," Hukari said. The traditional colors of the day, green and purple, honor the grasshoppers and grapes from whence the celebration came.

A special addition to this year's celebration is an unusual beauty contest which will take place downtown around 12:15 p.m. Parade watchers are invited to participate in the events by pelting the paraders with grapes. Post-parade activities will be held at Full Sail where the traditional "Toast to the Queen" will be held, along with an afternoon of live music. Children are welcome. To cast your vote for the queen, call 386-5785.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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