SHINE on Salem 150, celebrating the sesquicentennial of our city's 1860 charter, continues (and concludes) with the 2012 entry.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Salem in 1997

World Events
  • Pathfinder sends Mars photographs back to earth.
  • Princess Diana dies in Paris auto crash.
  • "Dolly", a cloned sheep, is born in Scotland.
  • "Titanic" is the most popular movie of the year.
World Beat Festival 1997
In Salem

The Salem Multicultural Institute is founded in February of 1997. Two moms with young daughters saw the need to create a positive, tangible response to growing concern about racial tensions in Salem. This grass-roots effort grew out of meetings in living rooms and coffee shops into a meaningful celebration and year-round community volunteerism, taking the form of a festival, celebrating all of the many cultures that make Oregon such a wonderful place. Their first event, World Beat, was held in Riverfront Park in the next summer. The photograph above is from the 1998 Statesman Journal files with the caption, " Middle Eastern dancer Naia of Eugene whirls across Riverfront Park's outdoor stage in the World Beat Festival and the official dedication of the park."
Held annually at this "front yard" of Salem, the summertime festival has grown from the amphitheater park site, shown above, to encompass the whole 23-acre park with more 250 exhibitors and performing arts groups, 400 volunteers and 70 sponsors involved with the festival annually. The average annual attendance has reached approximately 30,000 guests.
The Institute continues to follow its original vision: to create an environment of openness for all people. SMI aims to be family-friendly, economically inclusive, and culturally authentic. Although a voluntary donation is welcome at all entrance gates, the Institute does not have an entrance fee for its World Beat Festival or for its exhibits at the Reed Opera House World Beat Gallery or lecture series. SMI also hosts an annual Multicultural Ball each October in the Reed Opera House Ballroom.


When you visit
World Beat Gallery in Reed Opera House 2014
 In 2006, the Salem Multicultural Institute moved their office downtown and opened the World Beat Gallery at the Reed Opera House with an exhibit entitled Diversity in the Philippines. The gallery has since hosted other cultural exhibits, including Holidays Around the World, Black Voices from Salem’s Past, Scotland and Her People, Windows into China and three series about international marriage customs. The Performance and Lecture series, which began in 2007, encourages local ethnic communities to showcase cherished traditions in the intimate, historic setting of the Reed. A small staff coordinates the work of volunteers, curates the exhibits and organizes the year-round events

Other events
  • Raul Ramirez is the first Hispanic to be elected as Marion County Sheriff. A star athlete and student leader, eighteen-year-old Raul Ramirez was ordered to report to his Woodburn High School principal’s office. There he found the local Police Chief waiting to talk to him. "I didn’t do it," thought Ramirez, sure he was about to be blamed for something. As he explains it, "Back then, law enforcement was not a friend of the Hispanic community. "
    Until then, Ramirez's goal was to be a physical education teacher and work with youth. But his meeting with the Police Chief that day changed his life -- and his future career.
    Police Chief Bob Prinslow wanted Ramirez to help police build relations with teen-agers. "I needed him," Prinslow later said. "There was a lot of juvenile crime at the time and I wanted a leader to help me. Raul was a natural." Ramirez became the department’s first police cadet and was later hired as a part-time dispatcher. Prinslow was the Marion County Under Sheriff when Ramirez was hired as a deputy. The two have remained friends and Prinslow watched proudly as Ramirez replaced him as Marion County Sheriff.
  • The Oregon Garden in Silverton is begun with a groundbreaking ceremony in June. It will open to the public in April 1999.
  • The transit district, following ADA guidelines, converts buses for the use of disabled patrons.
  • The Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, a minor league baseball team, is organized. They are a Short-Season Class A team in the Northwest League, and are an affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. They play their home games at Volcano Stadium that seats 4,252 fans.
  • A group of prisoners in the State Penitentiary dig a tunnel 24 feet long before their escape route is discovered.
  • In January of 1996, Keiko, the killer whale star of Free Willy and Free Willy II, was moved from Mexico City via cargo plane into his new home at the Oregon Coast Aquarium. Over the next 32 months, Keiko is rehabilitated at the aquarium, where more than 2.5 million people pay him a visit. In the fall of 1998, Keiko was moved to a pen in the waters of the North Atlantic off Iceland, rehabilitated for living on his own. He died December 12, 2003, after the sudden onset of pneumonia in the Taknes fjord.
  • In 1997 several "Salem Public Library History" exhibits were mounted in the Heritage Room. In March, Tired Old Barns was the exhibit with over 40 Marion Court Historical Society photographs taken by Al Jones. Other collections on display included "Oregon Covered Bridges" and Salem Public Library History.

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