Happy Birthday, Eugene: From Oct. 17, 1862, to today

EUGENE, Ore. - Visitors stopped by Eugene Skinner's cabin Wednesday morning for a little history time travel back to the founding of Eugene.

The City of Eugene officially incorporated on Oct. 17, 1862.

In honor of the sesquicentennial, actors portrayed town founders Eugene and Mary Skinner for a playful jab at how the city was named.

Bill Sullivan played Eugene Skinner; Kim Donahey portrayed Mary Skinner.

"You might as well call it 'Bob,' " Sullivan's Skinner responded to Mary's suggestion the new town be named "Eugene" in his honor.

Native American history was part of the program, too, with the story of early contacts between Eugene Skinner and the Kalapuya nation.

"He in fact consulted with the Kalapuya about food resources," said Esther Stutzman, a member of the Kalapuya nation, "and the Kalapuya people told him where the best places to settle would be."

The main attractions Wednesday were commemorative Eugene@150 postcards with cancellation stamps as part of the birthday celebration.

A community party is set for Saturday, Oct. 20, in the Hult Center lobby.

Music by the bands Family Dynamic and The Sugar Beets will start at about 1:10 p.m.

Attendees will be also able to take a break from dancing to enjoy a performance of "You are There, the Founding of Eugene" by Fred Crafts' Radio Redux. Fred Crafts and his actors, including Mayor Kitty Piercy, City Manager Jon Ruiz and local radio personality Storm Kennedy will be back by popular demand for an encore performance of this highly entertaining, fact-based, but not entirely true story of Eugene's early days.

There will also be an opportunity to sing "Happy Birthday" and eat birthday cake.

The celebration kicks off at 11:30 a.m. with the interactive dedication of Eugene's newest cultural icon, the Great Blue Heron sculpture at 13th Avenue and Alder Street. Everyone is invited to bring a flower to the dedication to welcome the Great Blue Heron. Marimba music by the band Zambuko and poetry readings will add to the festivities.

After the dedication, at about 12:30 p.m., participants are invited to walk or bike in a festive procession from the new sculpture to the Hult Center for the party.

Everyone is encouraged to decorate their bicycles or themselves for the special occasion.

For more information on other Eugene@150 events and activities visit the birthday website at