By Associated Press • 

Eugene celebration canceled; Slug Queen still on

EUGENE — A summer celebration of Eugene's wacky ways has been canceled, for this year at least, but there's some hope for the annual parade featuring the city's Slug Queen.

And, vows the reigning monarch of the beauty queen spoof, there will be a Slug Queen.

The celebration was launched three decades ago to celebrate the opening of a city centerpiece, the Hult Center for the Performing Arts, and to lift spirits in a recession made darker by devastation in the timber and logging industries.

But the celebration has diminished over time, the Eugene Register-Guard reports.

Financial support has dwindled, the length of the parade has been reduced by half, and the music stages are down from nine to three.

The organizing has been passed from the city to a nonprofit to, for last year, a business owned by Kit Kesey, a nephew of writer Ken Kesey.

Meanwhile, downtown Eugene has been revitalized with commercial and community college development.

There's little room left for celebration, Kesey said, and food booths that used to stand in front of vacant buildings now block new businesses, whose owners weren't happy.

“They love the event, but they really don't want to be compromised for a weekend,” Kesey said. “The two things just didn't mesh.”

He hopes, though, that the parade itself can be salvaged this year, somehow.

Speaking for Society of the Legitimization of the Ubiquitous Gastropod, the 31st of the Slug Queens promises there will be a coronation Aug. 8, two weeks before the festival was to be held.

“We are the slug queens, and nothing will stop us,” Professor Doctor Mildred Slugwak Dresselhaus said.

She is otherwise known as Brandy Todd, assistant director of the Oregon Center for Optics at the University of Oregon.

Her crown last year sat on fluorescent green hair. She dedicated her reign to getting girls involved in science, and her young “minions” dazzled onlookers with shows of flaming liquids and smoking concoctions.

Kesey said last year's celebration was profitable. He vows to revive the celebration next year, in some way: “I just said we need to take a little hiatus on this and look at re-doing it in 2015.”

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Information from: The Register-Guard, http://www.registerguard.com

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