"Riding the Y2K Rocket" - May 1999 Loyalty Days Parade Photo courtesy Newport News-Times
Loyalty Days, Newport Oregon
Two thousand people visited Newport on May 1, 1938,
with the prospect of a "free lunch" -- 6,000 crabs were distributed
free of charge to visitors to the first annual Crab Festival. The
reason was twofold: the price of Dungeness crab had hit rock
bottom; organizers promoted the idea of the festival believing it
would create a craving for the local crustacean. Moreover, Newport,
like the rest of America, was reeling from the Depression; it was
thought that the Crab Festival would be an economic "shot in the
arm" for Oregon's Central Coast. When World War II broke out,
Newport became concerned with the possibility of an enemy invasion
on the coast. Fisherman went off to war, while others turned their
boats over to the military for patrolling the coast. The Crab
Festival fell by the wayside. After the war, the Festival was
revived in a big way, when a Crab Festival Queen was crowned and
the chance to win a new car was raffled off. However, it wasn't too
long before crabs became too expensive to give away, the festival
lost money, and the crab festival became impractical.
About the same time that the crab festival was dying,
the nation was gripped by anti-communist fervor. In 1953, the
annual May Crab Festival was replaced with Loyalty Days, and
Lincoln County veterans organizations held a modest parade "in
support of a counter demonstration of the annual May Day mass
rallies and celebrations staged by the communists." In 1958,
President Eisenhower signed a Loyalty Days Proclamation. The focus
of Newport Loyalty Days gradually switched to fun, not unlike the
Crab Festivals of old. By 1970, parade entries totaled nearly 100,
and the event featured a Dungeness crab dinner for $1.75.
Demonstrations of crab pot construction and net making and repair
were held. Since then, air shows, boat races, horse shows, scuba
diving contests, and crab running contests have all become part of
Loyalty Day events. During 1999 Loyalty Days, a crab queen was
coronated; carnival rides, boat tours, yacht races, a car show and
bed races were offered during the four-day event. A memorial
ceremony honoring Oregon's servicemen and women who lost their
lives while serving their country was held at the ocean's edge.
Although the fading away of the Cold War has
diminished the need for a patriotic May Day festival, Newport's
celebration of Loyalty Days is alive and well and continues to
grow. Having roots in both the crab Festival and loyalty "counter
demonstrations" of previous decades, it has evolved into a
celebration of community pride and a Newport rite of spring.
The project is documented with a report of five
pages; twelve 8 x 10 photographs; information on the Lincoln County
Historical Society, who submitted the project; a newspaper article;
a one-page sheet on "Loyalty Day" from 1967; and an article from
the Newport Chamber of Commerce newsletter.
Originally submitted by: Darlene Hooley, Representative (5th District).
The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.