Familiar parade tropes like marching bands, waving pageant queens, and glad-handing politicians were augmented by the addition of the St. Johns Bizarre, a street fair complete with a flash-mob and a headlining performance by Explode Into Colors, dubbed the best new band in the city last year by Willamette Week. A mariachi band blared away on the sidewalk. Even Telephone Man seemed to fit, with occasional cameo appearances in the crowd.

st johns anna bannanas
Image: Jake Stangel

LEGONG GELATO & ANNA BANNANAS, N Lombard Street scene

Speirs has seen the changes grow from a shadow on the horizon to the very real buzz that now surrounds him. He is resigned to change but still concerned about the consequences. “We need the influx of entrepreneurs and young people to rescue this place,” he admits. “But there’s a sense of resentment and concern from some that (the newcomers) are just here to skim off the surface. That they don’t really give a shit about St. Johns.”

Ultimately, what might help carry St. Johns through its next evolution is the ability to embrace its tenacious past while at the same time jettisoning that 95-year-old grudge. It’s a new mind-set of proactive progress set forth in a letter to the editor Adamski recently sent to the St. Johns Review. “Often,” she wrote, “I hear a response that reflects an attitude of ‘Well, St. Johns always gets a bad shake.’ I feel that this is not helpful and rather hurtful to our community….Consider asking yourself what a solution might be before you complain about a problem in our neighborhood.

“Perhaps a change in thinking is all that is needed.”