Family Portrait idea clicks with Port Townsend residents

PORT TOWNSEND — Mike Kenna was sitting in his office 20 years ago at Uptown Printery Communications, thinking how he could promote Port Townsend.

By that time, Kenna had already spent about 10 years in the Key City.

As an entrepreneur and Port Townsend Main Street Promotion Committee member, he became a part of the tight-knit community.

Like today, the community was characterized by occasional disputes and more frequent kindness, and felt like family.

So Kenna thought of a family portrait.

He pitched the idea to other Main Street volunteers and they agreed to go with it.

Kenna proposed to reproduce a 1925 black-and-white photograph showing a downtown crowd awaiting the arrival of the Port Townsend Southern Railway at the corner of Water and Taylor streets.

“With my background in design and print, we thought it would be a good idea,” Kenna said.

Main Street volunteers urged Port Townsend residents to gather for the first family portrait.

First photo in October 1985

On a cold and blustery day on Oct. 19, 1985, about 2,000 residents gathered in front of the Mount Baker Block Building.

Photographer Paul Boyer snapped the black-and-white image, a copy of which Kenna keeps in his office.

He framed an article with the photo as it appeared in now-defunct Washington Magazine.

As a visibly shivering but smiling group of residents look at the camera, Kenna’s back appears at the lower right corner of the photograph. He turned away trying to corral the crowd with a bullhorn.

“I never got into the photo, that’s the thing about it,” said Kenna with a smile.

Twenty years later, the tradition is still strong.

The 20th anniversary of Port Townsend Family Portrait is scheduled for 11:45 a.m. Saturday in front of the Mount Baker Block Building, at the corner of Water and Taylor streets.

A limited number of same-day poster prints are available.

Participants can stop by at a sign-up table on site to prepay for a poster.

Organizers hope to make posters available after 3 p.m. at Printery Communications, 631 Tyler St.

Posters cost $11, of which $1 will be donated to the Hurricane Katrina relief efforts of the American Red Cross, organizers said.

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