Food, brews, and dads

Esther Short Park festivities help families celebrate Father's Day

By Stevie Mathieu, Columbian Assistant Metro Editor



Families out and about for Father’s Day in downtown Vancouver didn’t let the rain ruin their plans to celebrate fatherhood.

Esther Short Park was bustling with activity Sunday as Vancouver USA Marathon participants, their friends and families wound down with a post-run beer in a cordoned-off section of the park. At the nearby farmers market, families huddled under the eaves of a building, snacking on food and waiting for the weather to clear.

“I wanted jambalaya and they wanted elephant ears,” Roland Ruby of Vancouver said of his daughter, Alexis Ruby, and his girlfriend, Kathleen Nealey. The best part of the rain, he said, was that it scared the crowds away and they didn’t have to wait in line for their food.

Earlier in the day, the trio attended the Delta Park Powwow & Encampment event in Portland. On the way home, they decided to stop at the farmers market.

“We cram as much as we can into the weekend,” Roland Ruby said, adding that he supervises Alexis on the weekend, while Alexis stays with her mother during the week.

On the topic of fatherhood, Alexis said a good dad is someone who’s “always nice,” while Nealey said fatherhood is “knowing how to have fun and not being afraid to be a kid yourself.”

As for the dad in the group?

It takes “a little bit of attitude,” Roland Ruby said, along with “being there, listening and knowing what quality time is.”

Just up the road, Bob Johanson of Kelso managed to give his dad, Robert Johanson, also of Kelso, a fitting Father’s Day present: “A backpack, and a nice rain jacket, which I need today,” Robert Johanson said.

Bob Johanson was at the farmers market after attending his son’s basketball tournament in Portland, and Robert Johanson was there to run the market’s Premium Smoked Meats booth for another son who couldn’t work that day.

Robert Johanson said a good father is “someone that’s willing to be there in the good times and the bad times.”

Nearby, Santanna Horner walked through Esther Short Park carrying two toddlers — one strapped to his chest and the other strapped to his back. Horner shielded all three from the rain with a blue-and-white golf umbrella. He stopped under a gazebo in the park, letting the 2-year-old twin boys, Acelin and Aries Johnson, out of their carriers.

Horner, of Vancouver, says he regularly walks his girlfriend’s children, whom he considers his own. The ritual helps the boys sleep, he said, and “I feel a connection with them, especially when they sleep on me.”

On Sunday, he unwrapped some cake and cherries he bought at the market and gave some to the boys. “I spoil them whenever Mom is not around,” he said.

Tim Cochran of Eugene, Ore., spent Father’s Day running in the Vancouver marathon with his wife, Sarah Cochran. Two of the couple’s children also got to participate in some of the marathon-related events. The third, 21-month-old Thomas, sported a shirt that read “0.0” on the front (indicating he’s yet to rack up any marathon miles). The back of his shirt read, “Marathons aren’t for babies.”

It was Tim Cochran’s third time running in the marathon, and “It’s always been on Father’s Day,” he said while standing alongside his family in the park. He added his family likes the event so much, “We keep coming back.”

Don't Do Stupid Stuff Mugs