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Railroad Days provides something for everyone

The Chester Progressive of Chester, California

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Portola was cleaned, painted, polished and looking great as the 33rd annual Railroad Days celebration got underway Friday, Aug. 21.

According to event organizers, around 3,000 people attended the three-day event.

"We are very happy with the turn out. It was great to see such a big crowd at the parade and in the park all weekend," said Railroad Days Committee Chairperson Patricia Ryan.

The weekend started out with the final installment of the Concert in the Park series hosted by the city and Eastern Plumas Chamber of Commerce.

The Graeagle Lions Club added to Friday's festivities by offering an ice cream social with free ice cream.

Blue skies, warm sun and a gentle breeze greeted locals and visitors alike as crowds gathered more than an hour in advance to get a good spot on Commercial Street for the Golden Spike Parade on Saturday morning.

The streets were lined as the parade began and the local motorcycle club led the VFW Color Guard in the opening procession.

Russ Fites, who has carried the flag to open the parade for 31 years, was honored as he retired from this duty to the community.

The new Portola High School Drum Line, accompanied by the PHS Cheer Squad, followed the color guard and got the crowd energized.

Nakoma General Manager Dan Gallagher announced the line of classic cars, motorized lazy boy chairs, antique tractors, emergency vehicles, local service organizations and businesses that made up the nearly 50 entries that paraded through town.

As the parade ended, all those present headed over to the Portola city park to check out the offerings from 40 vendors and their wares.

Music played, children whooshed down the obstacle course set up by the Rotary and many enjoyed the free admission to the city pool.

Activities ranged from a Closest to the Hole contest, to a fly-casting contest and dunk tank.

A free shuttle carried spectators from the park to downtown and then on to the Western Pacific Railroad Museum.

The museum offered free admission. With over 100 cars in the parking lot at one point during the day, it appeared that attendance was steady and smiles showed the enjoyment that came from train rides, hands on displays and big engine fun.

As the heat turned up, the annual Lucky Ducky Race offered a riverfront spot to cool down.

Hundreds of yellow rubber ducks sped along in the flow of the current bobbing quickly to win the race. Parent volunteers from the Portola Pre-School Parent Cooperative anxiously rescued ducks that strayed as they raced toward the finish line under the bridge. A group of dads scooped out the winners with Julie's ducky in first, Sharon's (from Sharon's cafe) duck in second and Diane's duck was third. The remaining ducks were scooped from the water and deposited in buckets on the shore.

The Williams family of Bear Butt Carvings offered live demonstrations of their chainsaw cutting craft, expertly transforming a plainB stump into a cute bear to the on-lookers amazement.

The co-ed softball six-team tourney played throughout the weekend at the ball fields with Three Average Joes from Reno facing the Hot Spots from Quincy. At the end of the day the Three Average Joes ended up on top with the win.

Wild West Gunfights entertained the crowd over both days of the event staging historical and hysterical reenactments. The Badges, Bandits and Bloomers from Reno put on shows that caught the attention of all ages.

Perhaps a future racecar driver was born during the inaugural pedal car races that had steady participation all day long. With Kylie, the winner of the 8 to 9 age division showing true racing prowess as she put up the fastest time of the day.

Bands played throughout the day with Blue Haven bringing the concert to an end, as the park remained full into the night.

Sunday morning began early with the Willie Tate

Memorial River Run starting promptly at 8 a.m. to take advantage of the cool morning air.

The runners, ages 6 to 88, enjoyed the early start with many commenting on the weather and the course being perfect.

Participants were mostly local, but entries from Reno, Washington and as far as Mississippi participated. Forest Gump may have even been spotted running along the river that morning.

The overall winners of the 5k and the 10k were both from Reno. Ryan Ress won the 5k with a time of 18:23. Jeff Huxhold easily won the 10k with a time of 35:07. The two are running friends who train together for marathons. Both have participated in the Willie Tate run for several years.

As the morning began to turn into afternoon, just an hour before the end of the Bass Derby, grandfather Rudy Mlakar and grandson Trent Mlakar came running in with two bass to be weighed. Trent caught the record bass with his 18-inch, 3 pound 10.5 ounce bass.

The winning bass, and all but one caught over the weekend, survived being caught and were released into the beautiful Feather River.

Overall, the weekend was rated a success for every activity, according to organizers. Each committee member shared details of how to build on that success and make next year's event even bigger and better.

Ryan summed it up saying, "This is truly a community event with local businesses donating equipment and prizes, the city staff that goes above and beyond working in the event and the support of all of the volunteers made the event so successful and continues to raise the bar.

"We were truly pleased with strong participation and look forward to the event next year," said Ryan.

Mark your calendars now for next year's event to be held the fourth weekend in August, 2016.

Copyright 2015 The Chester Progressive, Chester, California. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: August 26, 2015

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