Employees and patrons bid farewell to Eugene Red Lion Hotel

EUGENE, Ore. - About a hundred guests and employees attended a farewell party for the Red Lion Hotel, which has been a fixture at Coburg and Oakway roads for the past 51 years.

The hotel staff organized the event in the hotel's lounge Friday to allow residents, guests and employees to say their final goodbyes on the night the Red Lion officially closed.

The Red Lion's lease of the 3.5-acre property ends January 31, 2014.

The party ran from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., followed by karaoke. The Red Lion lounge and sports bar was decorated with streamers and balloons in the hotel's signature colors: red, white and black. The Brewketts played live music, and there were a dinner buffet and beverages from the Legends Sports Bar.

General manager Doug Fine helped organize the party.

"Most of the city knows the Red lion is closing," Fine said. "We're just doing this as a farewell for everyone and an opportunity to say goodbye."

Over the years, the hotel has hosted weddings, athletic teams and conferences and has been a karaoke hot spot.

One karaoke regular, Donna - who declined to give her last name - has attended karaoke at the Red Lion lounge for the past seven years.

"I've had a lot of fun here, and the staff treat us very well," Donna said. "It's smaller and everything is more personal."

Dee Dee Hartley, a supervisor at the hotel, started working at the Red Lion 21 years ago.

"I love it here, and I've learned a lot," Hartley said. "It's such a small property, so it's like a small family here, and I really loved all of it."

The 137-room hotel was originally designed to be a full service motel, including an outdoor pool, hot tub, exercise room, 300-person banquet room, lounge and restaurant.

A Colorado-based natural and organic food store company, Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage, has leased the commercial site and plans to redevelop it as a grocery store.