Thousands pack Portland for Timbers, Starlight

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Thousands of people packed into Portland Saturday for several bigs events downtown.

Timbers fans were already lining up Friday night to get their hands on tickets to the home opener. The Timbers are returning home to Providence Park after a major renovation project that added more than 4,000 seats.

The Timbers have been on the road since March and fans are ready to let them hear their hometown support tonight.

“I’m excited, we’ve been on the road for the whole season so it’s about time you know,” fan Rogelio Lara said. 

“That’s too long, but 4,000 extra seats — they’re going to feel the presence of the fans,” fan Miguel Villanueva said. 

The players are just as excited to play at home as the fans are to see them. The 12-straight road games means nights away from family, sleeping in hotels, flying from city to city.

They also haven’t been able to enjoy the energy of the Timber’s Army.

“We feed off the fans — and we haven’t had that since November of last year,” defender Zarek Valentin said. “And we get to have that now. So in the moments when the game is tight or when we’re under it a little bit, the fans can give us that little burst that we haven’t had in the past 12 games.”

Timbers fans can also get into CityFair for free after 9 p.m. if they’re wearing Timbers gear.

The Timbers game isn’t the only big event bringing crowds to the city.

Starting Saturday morning, folks were already staking out their prime viewing spots for the Starlight Parade. The parade started at 8:30 p.m. from NW Burnside and 9th Avenue and ended near Lincoln High School.

“Lots of walking because we parked on the other side of the bridge, so yeah, lots of walking,” spectator Eli Hendricks said. 

As always, bright lights and fun floats dominated the Starlight Parade, which is put on by Portland General Electric. Portland Fire and Rescue wowed the crowd with some acrobatics to start things off.

The Starlight Run 5K was also Saturday night near Waterfront Park and the Rose Festival CityFair. 

“Traffic was challenging, we actually had to get on our apps and we ended up using the Trimet system, the MAX,” Starlight runner Jason Vanzwol said. 

An estimated 300,000 people lined the streets to watch costumed runners. 

The parade and Timbers game ended around the same time, in the same area, so traffic was heavier than usual. People were strongly encouraged to take TriMet.

“Probably, can’t be in a hurry you just have to go with the flow,” parade spectator Marilyn Garcia said. 

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