Sunny Day Smiles on Sunnyside's Sunny City

August 13, 2017 | Warren Rushold

Sunday, July 2, 2017, dawned bright and clear. It promised to be a beautiful day in Portland, Ore. After a several-years' hiatus the community fair known as Sunny City was back.

Sunny City is an interactive cityscape designed especially for kids; each “building” (canopy) is something you might find in a real city. The purpose is to create a positive connection between our neighbors, community organizations and the local church. In some cases this is the first positive interaction with a church the children and families have ever had.

Leadership was provided by Sunnyside Church members Elise Holcombe, the city coordinator, and Lorraine Jacobs, the concert and sponsor manager.

In the past, Sunny City was produced by Sunnyside Church alone. This was the first attempt at a collaborative production with Adventist Medical Center (AMC) and Portland Adventist Academy (PAA) joining the church's efforts. The goal for all three organizations is that over time the people of southeast Portland will come to trust us for their physical, emotional, educational and spiritual needs.

PAA provided the venue on its campus as well as student helpers. AMC set up a walk-through large intestine (colon) display, promoted a health screening event to be held in August and did a promotional mailing to the local zip code. Sunnyside provided the leadership and volunteers.

Healthy and affordable food was available for purchase, and a rest area provided cool bottled water. The Oregon Commission for the Blind let people try on glasses that simulate various eye conditions, and then they had to try to complete tasks. Attendees enjoyed singing and joyful music in the music hall and could choose a book to take home from the library.

Face painting created quite a line, while other kids helped create a "freedom mural." A geology adventure helped kids learn some amazing facts and let them dig in sand for a treasure. Vacation Bible School crafts encouraged families to preregister for the upcoming Maker Fun Factory VBS. Kids could work off their energy in a bouncy house or explore digestive health with AMC's colon display. Portland Adventist Community Services (PACS) brought the COW (Commodities on Wheels) mobile food bank.

Outside the gate/fence there was a multicolored parachute, another energy-consuming activity. After the canopies closed (most cities do shut down), a concert on the lawn was provided by a gospel bluegrass band, Road to Jericho, from Salem, Ore.

Sunny City was staffed by approximately 75 volunteers. About 180 kids attended. Their families brought the total attendance to about 325. We plan to follow this up with annual events. There certainly was good attendance and enthusiasm. The goal mentioned above of instilling confidence in our three organizations among our neighbors will obviously be an ongoing pursuit.

The volunteers were tired and the attendees blessed.