It’s what we’ve wanted since the beginning: for the new Orange Line to connect us as families, friends, neighbors and communities.
And if last Saturday’s opening day celebrations were any indication, this wasn’t just wishful thinking. Thousands gathered to commemorate a new chapter in our region’s history as they caught the Orange, crossed the bridge and partied from Oak Grove to Portland (and back).
The morning began with an extraordinary sight as the first Orange Line train from Milwaukie, filled with community leaders, crested Tilikum Crossing with a procession of members of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. Morning sun poured through the bridge cables, illuminating the regalia and bringing the moment’s full splendor to light.
Soon after, when the train reached the Lincoln St/SW 3rd Ave Station, the party began. Toasts were given, balloons were released (biodegradable, of course!) and music marked the festivities. Hundreds of eager riders lined the sidewalk to catch the first trains to Milwaukie and, just like that, the MAX Orange Line was in service.
The next seven hours of celebrations were a testament to the new line as a vital connection: The crowds that explored the route saw new things, met new people and formed new associations. From Grand Ronde’s Tilikum Village in the South Waterfront to the festival atop the Park Avenue Park & Ride, everyone showed an abundance of curiosity, excitement and patience — our community’s finest traits.
At the outset, our hope was simply for people to show up and check out the new line; what we witnessed was something bigger, both in scope and significance. More than just a celebration, Opening Day was a story — and it’s all thanks to you.