Visitors to Pendleton’s downtown on Saturday morning encountered a procession of Lions walking down Main Street.
It was no visiting circus or escape from the zoo, just Lions Club members from around the state celebrating the centennial anniversary of the first Lions Club.
The parade was part of a three-day state Lions Club convention held in Pendleton, which drew chapters from all around the state for leadership workshops, motivational speeches and networking. On Saturday the group donned Lions Club shirts and lion costumes and marched down Main Street with the Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office and a Pendleton Fire Department truck for a “birthday” celebration.
John Taylor, a board member and past president of the Lions Club in Pendleton, said he has been a member for 32 years.
“Our motto is ‘We serve,’ and doing service has been so rewarding personally, I just stuck with it,” he said. “It’s become a way of life for me.”
Taylor has served in a variety of positions in the club and been the “main instigator” of many local projects, but he said he always gets more out of his participation in Lions Club than he puts into it.
“It’s been tremendously rewarding,” he said.
He can’t pick just one Lions Club project he has enjoyed the most, but helping with the annual car show is always fun, as is the “fun and hectic” time running a concessions booth at the Pendleton Round-Up.
So far, he said, the convention had been inspiring and fun. He said it is always fun socializing with people from other parts of the state, and he had enjoyed a talk by a man who was able to turn his life around thanks to assistance from the Lions Club sight program in getting him surgery to restore his sight.
Carol Brink, district governor for Lions Club District 36E covering southern Oregon, said Pendleton had given visitors for the convention a warm welcome, including a visit from Mayor John Turner and from representatives of the chamber of commerce. She said it was fun to come see Pendleton and to get to participate in the convention.
“The conference is a way to meet up with old friends and get new ideas,” she said. “We’re just a happy, fun-loving group that loves to serve.”
The Lions Club was started by businessman Melvin Jones in 1917 in Chicago and has grown to be the largest service organization in the world, according to the club’s website.
The service club helps communities in a variety of ways, from food drives to scholarships, but has become particularly well-known for its focus on vision after Helen Keller addressed the club’s international convention in 1925 and challenged them to become “knights of the blind.” The club recycles eyeglasses, provides hundreds of thousands of vision screenings each year and helps provide funding for medical procedures to save or restore sight.
Contact Jade McDowell at email@example.com or 541-564-4536.