Kids take ‘hot dog’ cruise

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On a chilly, overcast day, the Sternwheeler Columbia Gorge pulled away from the Portland, Ore., sea wall and headed north on the Willamette River, jam-packed with 283 excited children eager to get underway on the 3rd annual Sternwheeler Hot Dog Cruise.

For nearly two hours, the children, parents and volunteers from Portland- and Salem-area Salvation Army corps and community centers listened to Capt. Tom Cramblett explain over the loudspeaker the wonders of Portland’s harbor.

“It’s a way of giving back to the community,” says Cramblett. “And to give the children a chance to see what the boat and river are like.”

As the children settled down at tables lining the windows of the three-tier paddle boat and ate free hot dogs and potato chips and drank Coca-Cola and hot chocolate, the captain told them about the river barges, oil tankers, grain silos and tugboats lining the harbor.

But it was the thrill of wandering the decks, and looking out over the railing, and looking up at the bridges as the boat passed beneath that excited the kids the most.

“It’s wonderful to see the excitement in the kids’ faces and to watch their eyes light up,” says Captain Doug Riley, Moore Street Corps and Community Center. “This is an opportunity many of them would otherwise never have. We are grateful to the Sternwheeler Columbia Gorge for partnering with The Salvation Army and making all this possible.”

The Willamette River cruise was also made possible through the generosity of Rykoff-Sexton Co. and United Grocers, who provided the food, including 800 hot dogs.

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