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Downtown will need spruce-up for Cedar Cove Days

Plans for the renovation of downtown Port Orchard will take some time to accomplish, as demonstrated by the complexity of the construction of the downtown parking garage and construction of a new library.

In the meantime, however, there is a sense of urgency to sprucing up Bay Street in anticipation of the upcoming Cedar Cove Days.

Scheduled for Aug. 23-27, Cedar Cove Days is intended to celebrate the work of local novelist Debbie Macomber by sponsoring book-related activities and bringing fans together with the author.

Macomber’s fans number in the millions, and sponsors still expect several thousand people to converge on Port Orchard for the event desite pessimistic economic conditions that could still adversely effect vacation budgets.

“We’re doing pretty well in spite of the economy,” said City Councilman Jerry Childs, who is one of the event’s planners. “We’ve been able to raise money, and have proven wrong those who would have us postpone the event to a later time.”

Still, the sponsors have needed to scale back. Even though all local hotels are booked, some of the higher-priced events have been downsized.

For example, multiple boat trips featuring Macomber have been reduced to a single cruise.

“We’ve needed to lower our sights,” said organizer Cindy Lucarelli. “But the extra boats will still be there if we need them.”

Childs said that the city will encourage local merchants to clean up their facades and may provide support to do so.

Additionally, some of the empty storefronts will be used for event activities, such as an information center or for merchandise sales.

And the space between Myrhe’s and Slip 47, where a building used to stand, will need to be cleaned up and used for crafts or displays.

A quilt store and a media center are other possibilities, according to Childs.

“There are some things we need to do in order to clean up downtown,” Childs said. “We’ll need to get some flowers and signage and maybe do some painting where it’s needed. But there are some things that we cannot control.”

The Cedar Cove of Macomber’s books is modeled after Port Orchard, with many of the local landmarks recognizable.

Macomber uses literary license in her books, but her home town provides the raw material.

Even as a certain amount of cleanup is required event sponsors don’t seek to file away all of the town’s rough edges.

Keeping Port Orchard real will be part of the charm.

“In her books, Debbie doesn’t portray Cedar Cove a resort,” Childs said. “It is a working-class town with real people who have real problems. So there is nothing that we will have to apologize for.”

Lucarelli is now recruiting volunteers to help with the cleanup, which will include a lot of landscaping and weeding.

She admits that some of this will require a certain amount of tact, as private property owners might not take kindly to hearing that their lawn needs to be mowed.

“Port Orchard is an old town,” Childs said. “And like a lot of towns that have been around for 100 years, we have some warts.”

For information about Cedar Cove Days, go online to www.cedarcoveassociation.com.

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