A-Z History of Sumner, Washington - Games
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Sumner is a community that makes its own fun and entertainment. The tradition began in 1882 when Sumner’s first mayor, George Ryan, built a roller skating rink for $1,000. It drew one hundred skaters to its carefully laid fir floor the night it opened. Later it was called the Ryan Opera House and used for theater events and Whitworth College commencement exercise.
The citizens have always made music. Their tradition of participating in award-winning bands and musical groups began in 1895 when the Sumner Band received its first uniforms and begin holding regular concerts. A choral club was formed in 1906. By the time the bandstand, or gazebo, was built on the “Triangle” at Kincaid and Narrow, there were plenty of performing groups ready to use it. The gazebo was later moved to Loyalty Park. Sumner’s strong musical tradition reached its zenith in 1997 when the Sumner High School band raised thousands of dollars to march in the Rose Parade in Pasadena.
Madge recalls having lemonade during band concerts in the park every Saturday, listening to “Down by the Old Mill Stream: and other favorites. She went to street dances at the Triangle and was warned not to mingle with berry pickers-there was a social division between town and country to be observed. There was dancing at Riverside under a huge tent; the cement floor was waxed before each dance.
William Nasmyth began showing movies at his picture house in The Riviera Theater building in 1911. Sumner citizens saw their first talking movie in 1929. The building was demolished in 1973 to make way for a drive-up banking.
Tess, Mary Elizabeth, and Madge remember lots of school parties and ice cream socials at the churches. They made baskets and went to Berryland for ice cream. Madge played on Sumner’s first regulation tennis court, which doubled as an ice-skating rink in winter and disappeared when the Valley Freeway went in.
Community-wide celebrations mark the seasons of the Sumner year. There’s the Daffodil Parade in April, the Sumner Summer Arts Festival in August, and Taste of Sumner in October. The traditions of Halloween have not only been upheld, they’ve been enhanced. Close-knit neighborhoods near Sumner’s downtown provide excellent opportunities for efficient trick-or-treating, and some practical jokes occasioned by the holiday have become the stuff of legend.
Christmas begins with the Stuck River Bridge Lighting the day after Thanksgiving. The tree lighting at the Ryan House and Santa Parade are held on the first Saturday in December. The parade features horses, cub scouts, school bands, Santa in a fire truck, and a middle school choir singing in a dump truck, all moving up and down Main Street. Audiences pack the 900-seat Sumner High School Performing Arts Center for an all-schools holiday concert, and music ensembles perform in the gazebo at Heritage Park and Sumner’s antique shops.
Information on these pages is provided in part by Daffodil Valley Times Staff and The City of Sumner, Wa.
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