By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
There will certainly be some dancing in the streets this weekend.
It’s Keizer Iris Festival weekend, highlighted by the parade down River Road starting at 10:30 a.m. Saturday. A pet parade starts at 9:40.
The theme for this year’s 27th annual festival is Dancing in the Streets.
While the parade is staying the same, the big news with the annual celebration this year is events being moved from Keizer Station to Cherry Avenue.
A full list of activities for the weekend is in the official guide to the Iris Festival, produced by the Keizertimes last week. The free guide is available around the community and was sent to Keizer households last week; extra copies are also available at our office, 142 Chemawa Road N.
Sgt. Trevor Wenning with the Keizer Police Department said the change in location for most Iris Festival activities led to a revamping of traffic flow.
“We’re going to have officers out there at certain intersections directing traffic in one direction,” Wenning said. “We need to keep that flow going. In the past we had traffic going all four directions. This year some motorists will have to turn in the direction of the Salem Parkway or I-5. Those who live in the neighborhoods along (the parade route) may be inconvenienced, since they may have to go a few blocks out of the way. But we really need to alleviate congestion from the parade route itself.”
Lockhaven Drive North will close to all traffic between River Road North and McClure Street North at 6:30 a.m. to set the parade’s staging area. Parade entries won’t be allowed to go westbound on Lockhaven Drive. Those needing to get to the staging area must take Chemawa Road to Windsor Island Road North, then proceed eastbound on Lockhaven to their designated staging point.
River Road will close to north and southbound traffic from Plymouth Drive to Lockhaven Drive at 9 a.m. Vehicles on Chemawa Road, Dearborn Avenue and Manbrin Avenue will be allowed to cross River Road periodically before the parade.
Northbound River Road traffic will be diverted to Cherry Avenue via Plymouth Drive. Southbound River Road traffic will be diverted eastbound on Lockhaven Drive. Northbound Cherry Avenue traffic will be diverted onto Alder Drive.
The parade travels south on River from Lockhaven Drive to Glynbrook Street. River Road will begin reopening around 12:30 p.m. as the parade continues southbound.
Following the parade, the main efforts for officers will be getting people to Salem Parkway or I-5.
“After the parade is over, we won’t have traffic coming to River from Chemawa or Dearborn,” Wenning said. “We will divert traffic to Verda, where they will be directed towards the Salem Parkway or I-5.”
In the past, traffic could turn left off Plymouth Avenue onto Cherry. This year, that will be a right-turn only situation. Traffic needing to go northbound there – for example, people associated with floats in the parade – will be able to turn left, but will be diverted at Alder Drive. Motorists coming from the Salem Parkway onto Cherry will not be able to turn onto Plymouth Drive.
Wenning said patience will be necessary for everyone, including his officers.
“We will do our best to get them where they need to go,” he said. “People will need to remember they are one of tens of thousands trying to do the same thing.”
Wenning noted the KPD will have extra patrols during Iris Festival weekend.
“During the weekend festivities traffic safety officers from the Keizer Police Department will be out looking to take impaired drivers off the road,” he said. “The goal is to make our roadways safer for everyone traveling.”
A portion of Cherry Avenue was closed Wednesday evening. Funtastic Carnival has carnival rides set up on Cherry, with the KeizerFEST tent located next to the Keizer Lions pump station. Vendors are on the other side, with the family stage located just east.
“It’s going to be a little cumbersome at first,” festival chair Joe Egli said. “But people will get used to it quickly. This is our first year here. We’ll get all the kinks worked out, so it will be quite a bit easier next year. Safety is our main concern.”
Another challenge this year has been parking. The main parking area for the festival will be off Alder Drive, a bit southeast of the activities. Christine Dieker, executive director of the Keizer Chamber of Commerce that puts on the festival, said there should be some paid parking by the PGN Lounge at 4090 Cherry and there could be additional areas along Alder. Some nearby offices along River Road aren’t open on the weekends so that would open up some parking, but not for Thursday and Friday.
“We’re going to discourage using businesses’ parking along River,” Dieker said. “We want to leave those spaces for their customers. We will put some signs up.”
Dieker said there will be a free shuttle service starting Friday night, taking people from the festival area, down River Road, up Chemawa and ending at Keizer Station before circling back.
Other highlights of the weekend include Marion County’s first full marathon (see related story, pg. 1) on Sunday, two car shows on Sunday, the Poker Run motorcycle ride on Sunday, various musical activities on both the main stage and community stage throughout the weekend, the Carnival Fun Center all weekend and a K-9 demonstration on Saturday afternoon.