Any Portland resident expecting either a raging, out-of-control party or a quiet evening last night on Northeast Alberta Street would have been pretty disappointed.
It was August's installment of Last Thursday, the art show and 20-block-long social gathering held at the end of every month. Currently planned by Friends of Last Thursday and other informal organizers, the event has become the subject of growing discussion as the city weighs its role in the popular monthly Bohemia.
At times, the crowds last night were too thick to stumble through. And with bands playing on every street corner, some of them probably teetered dangerously close to the 55-decibel noise limit for an open space or residence. But overall, neighborhood anxieties that the event might explode into an anarchist cloud of drunken rage over lemonade stands and and piss-happy destruction seemed to quell–if only for now.
Mayor Sam Adams, who was present all night for the event, walked up and down Alberta earlier and told businesses that "we really needed their help on preventing any over-serving and open containers. Don't let anyone on the premise with open containers."
Adams's presence is a response to many community members such as Scott Breon who wrote a guest column in The Oregonian calling for greater regulation and leadership in the festivities. They say the event has gotten out of hand, with some suggesting vendors should fill out permit paperwork and fork out fees in order to pay for the growing cost to the city of supervising Last Thursday. Many vendors and artists counter that they are unemployed and that even a small fee would be a great hindrance to their monthly paying gig.
The city of Portland did foot the still-to-be-determined bill for an increase in port-a-potties, police, and security guards, armored in fluorescent, neon-yellow vests . One vendor called it an unnecessary cost.
"I've never seen any hassle or reason for the cops to be here," said Edward, who would not disclose his last name.
A seller of lamps made out of cymbals and drum kits, Edward said, "I've seen a couple fistfights when I first moved to town, but that was broken up quickly with vendors and (observers) calming people down."