Riverdale’s Field Day has been a highlight of the community since 1921. In the early years, parents would pack picnic baskets and stay at the school for the entire day. Each grade was represented on the schedule of events: Maypole and Folk dancing from the primary grades; 5 th & 6th grade Relay Races, and Floor Work and Dancing from the 7th and 8th grade students. There were also Mother-Daughter and Father-Son softball games. In the late 1930’s and 1940’s more field day events were added such as three-legged races, wheel-barrow races, dashes, broad and high jumps, relays, hurdles and softball throws. Volunteers cut red, white and blue ribbons for the children to wear as prizes for their performance. Blue and Gold felt Winged R’s were presented at graduation to the students who had won the most field day points.
In the early 1980’s, a morning run for all ages was added along with a parade by young students who held the banners that they designed. At this time, field day events grew to nearly 100 separate events. There were concessions, pony rides, and a chicken barbeque dinner with the evening ending with dancing. Since 1954, field days had different themes each year which included, Gingerbread Boy, Oregon Centennial, Olympics, Highland Games and Pioneer Days. These themes came across in the parade, field day events and carnival.
The Carnival was added to field day in 1967 “to provide inexpensive entertainment for children in conjunction with the Field Day theme, but not detract from the field events.” The Carnival committee contracted with a carnival supply house to set up games like, moon shot, spin-o-prize, frisbee, bumper cars and a lollipop tree. Similar to today’s Riverdale Fall carnival, parents also planned craft booths, a cake walk, face painting and bubble gum contest.
As is still true today, field day tradition concludes with 7th grade students and parents cleaning up from this timeless day of athletic events, food and fun.
Bledsoe, Helen Wieman. Riverdale School 1888-1988. Portland: Binford and Mort, 1988. Print