It’s dangerous to refer to anything as “Roseburg’s signature event.” The phrase bestows a giant blue ribbon on the designee while relegating everything else to also-ran status. That tends to offend people who think their favorites are being slighted.
Many annual gatherings in and around town put red-letter dates on our community calendar. Music on the Half Shell. The Douglas County Fair. The Umpqua Valley Festival of Lights.
All are well-loved. Each supports a worthy cause or simply brings great pleasure to large numbers of participants. But we’ll risk being pulled over and cited for reckless choosing by saying that tomorrow marks the start of Roseburg’s signature five-day celebration, Graffiti Weekend.
In fact the hoopla extends beyond the city into Green, Winston and Canyonville. This year’s roster of events is a reassuring repeat of past activities that please residents and visitors alike. They are described in detail in the special section included with today’s News-Review. So is the sole newbie, the Wellspring Come-N-Go-N-Shine in the Wellspring Bible Fellowship parking lot.
You don’t have to be a gearhead to love Graffiti Weekend. Its cruises, show-and-shines and socials always accelerate to the forefront of summer fun. Even those who don’t give a flying fender for vintage cars and hot rods enjoy getting together with friends and family members under the July skies. For the many more with an eye for a classy chassis, there’s the suspense of waiting to see what is parked (or rolling) around the next corner.
Graffiti Weekend brings out our collective best. Car owners bring their prized wheels to care homes and other sites where they can be viewed by residents who no longer have the mobility to join a cruise — or even power themselves to the grocery store. Admirers compliment the hard work that went into restoring or customizing a gleaming vehicle. Envy doesn’t seem to have a place in the Graffiti universe. Even people who will never be able to afford these collector’s items get pleasure in watching and listening to them respond to their drivers.
For one five-day stretch out of the year, during the Pacific Northwest’s brief burst of summer, everybody joins in reliving youth or imagining what it was like to be young when these vintage models ruled the road. They share stories about a grandfather who had a Chevy just like this one or trade tips on where to find reasonably priced replacement parts. They also pass along to a new generation an appreciation for the days when Route 66 was a portal to family adventure. When drive-ins made audiences gasp and cheer in unison, the way hand-held screens never will.
Readers no doubt have noticed another byproduct of Graffiti Weekend — nostalgia. Nothing wrong with visiting the past now and then, if it brings us to a renewed appreciation for some of the here and now we sometimes overlook.
So motor on over to any of this week’s celebrations of the American auto. The cars are waiting.