While many fans know JELD-WEN Field to be the beloved home of the Portland Timbers, the field itself has a long history going back all the way to 1926. With events ranging from football, rock concerts, dog racing, track and field, ski jumping and yes, soccer, JELD-WEN Field is full of great stories and memorable people. Today's story: William H. Taft.
On Saturday, Oct. 2, 1909, President William H. Taft addressed more than 20,000 children at Multnomah Field (JELD-WEN Field) in a festive event that included a tribute that "brought tears to his eyes," according to a New York Times report. The boys and girls were banked in red, white and blue rows in the grandstand to form a "living flat." The children waved red, white and blue banners in a "perfect storm of fluttering colors," and the gathering later spelled out "Taft" with yellow banners. Said Taft: "I have been greeted by the school children of nearly every city I have visited, bu no exhibition, no demonstration has been more beautiful than this." A waltz was later played by a band, and Taft briefly interrupted the energetic and inspirational scene to address the gathering. "I did not intend to make a speech," he said, "but I have been so inspired by you that I cannot refrain from expressing my gratitude for your wonderful drill and the beautiful effect." He later added: "You call yourself the 'City of Roses' because of the beautiful flowers, but I look now upon 20,000 human roses, upon which I congratulate your city and your parents much more."