May 7, 1995 in City

Neighbors March To Better Times

By The Spokesman-Review

You know you’ve found a neighborhood parade when:

The bystanders hold conversations with those riding on the floats. Not just “howdys,” but 30-second exchanges.

Kids walking in the parade eat more candy than they throw to people alongside the route.

The cleanup wagon at the end of the parade gets as much applause as the marching bands.

Spokane’s West Central neighborhood kicked off its third Neighbor Days on Saturday with just that kind of parade.

A day before nearly 60,000 Bloomsday runners crash their neighborhood, West Central residents struck up the band and partied in A.M. Cannon Park.

“This is a great way for people here to get involved,” said Jerry Gill, owner of Doyle’s Ice Cream.

The parade and celebration started two years ago, coinciding with increased efforts by neighborhood residents to reverse West Central’s rising crime rate.

“It’s made a difference, having this parade and people getting to know one another,” said West Central resident Ron Bayless.

“We realized no one else (but us) would change things here,” he said.

The first Neighbor Days celebration came after the the creation of COPS West, a Spokane Police Department substation to help West Central residents work together on crime reduction.

Crime rates in the area have dropped. Home ownership has increased.

Similar substations in Hillyard and the Spokane Valley have followed the COPS West model.

“A small-town kind of feeling is exactly what the celebration is trying to create,” said neighborhood resident Dorothy Spoerhase.

“Police used terrible names like ‘The Zone’ and ‘Felony Flats’ to describe this side of town.

“Now we like to call where we live ‘West Central Heights.’ That goes with the theme we have: ‘The sky’s the limit’.”Those watch ing the parade included West Central residents and dozens from around the city.

“This is kind of a dying thing, a small neighborhood parade,” said South Hill resident Erin McArthur.

“I decided to come today and have some ice cream. Because tomorrow, this place will be a Bloomsday mob scene,” she said.

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