Get ready for Town Portrait 2000 |

Get ready for Town Portrait 2000

The portrait is Sunday, Sept. 17 at noon at the Louisiana Pacific Mill Site, off the eastern end of Church Street. The event is hoped to draw as many as 12,000 Truckee residents.

One such resident is Hugh McGuigan, whose family lineage in Truckee dates back to the late 1800s. McGuigan is a descendent of the Von Fluee family, who owned the Von Fluee Dairy on West River Street until the early 1900s.

“My grandfather was born here in 1897. His family lived in Truckee prior to his birth, and for quite some time thereafter,” McGuigan said. “He moved away in the ’30s to work for Southern Pacific Railroad.”

Mayor Maia Schneider proposed the idea of Town Portrait 2000 after seeing a copy of the previous town portrait, taken nearly 100 years ago, in OB’s Pub and Restaurant on Commercial Row. The portrait is nearly six feet long and hangs in a mahogany frame. The photo is stained and cracked, but the image is still clear.

The portrait offers a window into what life was like in Truckee at the turn of the century. Some of the residents, dressed in heavy dark clothing with mittens and lavish hats, hold pieces of ice and snow, which was then one of the town’s greatest commodities.

“There are only two copies of the previous town portrait that I know about, one at OB’s Pub and Restaurant and the other at the Jail Museum,” Schneider said.

It has not been determined where the photo was taken or who was included (see story page one).

The new Truckee Town Portrait will take place at the Old Mill, otherwise known as the “balloon track” or roundhouse, an area of notable historical significance.

Guy Coates, research historian for the Truckee Historical Society, said the roundhouse marked one of the centers for railroad activity until a fire destroyed the building.

The area has been cleaned of trash and debris, and over the last few weeks Director of Public Works Tom Covey has organized where the action will take place and where the photo will occur.


However, no successful photo will emerge without guidance from professional photographers, of which there are at least four.

Russell Rosewood, Tom Lippert, John Echols, and Larry Prosser will be documenting the event from behind their cameras. As such, the photographers and their assistants may not be included in the historic portrait.

“It’s too bad because we’ve been here for 25 years so we should be in the picture,” said Laurel Lippert, wife of photographer Tom Lippert. Laurel will be flying a 1946 Cessna 140 with her husband Tom, who plans to take aerial photos from roughly 1,000 feet above the crowd.

“Who knows, maybe someone will look up and say ‘Hey, the Lipperts need to be in here’ and we will get our own portrait to put on the side.”

Tom Lippert, a professional photographer since his days as a ski instructor at Squaw Valley 26 years ago, has been a staff photographer for Ski magazine for 15 years and currently shoots for Smithsonian magazine.

A professional photographer for roughly 30 years, Tom has traveled all over the world on assignment, including Australia, New Zealand and the former Yugoslavia for the 1984 Olympics.

While it’s hard to top shooting from an old Cessna aircraft, photographer Russell Rosewood of Photo Sensitive will receive his share of the action.

In fact, Rosewood will be responsible for climbing the 80-foot ladder provided by the Truckee Fire Protection district to take the Town Portrait.

“There is a safety belt that hooks on to the rung of the ladder. But my major concern is the camera equipment. I am going to have to work out some type of safety rig.”

Rosewood, also a long-time Truckee resident, said he went to the site with Truckee Fire Protection District to practice climbing the ladder.

“As I climbed out there the fire department lifted the ladder 70-80 degrees until I was about 80 feet in the air.”

Rosewood plans to use a Hassleblad 50mm camera and super wide lenses.

“The super wide lens takes a 90 degree angle of view which is equivalent to a 17mm wide-angle lens on a 35mm camera,” he said.

To add to the aerial display, Larry Prosser plans to hover above the town in a helicopter provided by the California Highway Patrol.

“I have a couple of Heli-Ski clients so I’ve worked from a helicopter before,” he said.

A Truckee resident for approximately 20 years, Prosser’s work has appeared in Ski and Outside magazine. His scenic images have been used for postcards, and have appeared in calendars and books about the Tahoe-Truckee area.

At the throne of the visual display is John Echols, a former staff photographer for the Sierra Sun and now president of Channel 6 community television and the photography instructor for Tahoe Truckee High School. Echols plans to use footage from the event for a film, which will be available on video, he hopes, by December.

Once the historic shot is taken, organizers will format the image and print posters, which will be available for pre-order at the event for a discount price.

“The Historical Society will be the custodian of the photo,” said Billy Cornell. After 30 days, sales revenue from the poster will be used to benefit the Truckee Historical Society.

The Town Portrait 2000 committee plans to provide several different activities to make the historic event entertaining throughout the day. The committee has arranged music from local performers, food from non-profit groups and restaurants and entertainers.

The Music

Paul Covarelli, owner of the Pastime Bar for seven years and general manager for many more, has organized support from local musicians and sound experts who will donate their skills, time and energy.

Deja Vu, The Deckheads, The POS Band, Jo Mama, the Donner Party, a barbershop quartet, Skinny White Samoans and headlining, perhaps, an amalgam of all of the different musicians will play before and after the Town Portrait.

“Truckee has a very tight family of musicians,” Covarelli said. “Everybody has a good feeling about the event. It’s a part of history, and everybody wants to do their share.”

All of the bands are comprised of local musicians. Covarelli said he wanted to keep it that way to celebrate the spirit of the event.

“We will have everything from barbershop to bluegrass. Jo Mama plays blues, funk, Latin, swing and reggae… The Samoans are a high-energy blues band. The POS Band plays bluegrass swing and Italian swing, which is like Lou Prima stuff, Deja Vu is a classic rock band, and the Deckheads they have a Jimmy Buffett twang to them,” Covarelli said.

Bob Sutton and Eric Thompson of Broken Arrow Productions will donate the sound equipment.

Covarelli said the players will likely join the crowd for the portrait and then resume playing.

Raffle for seating

To organize the first few rows of the picture, event organizers will hold a raffle, and draw lines on the ground with chalk to mark the first 90 spots.

The raffle tickets will be sold the day of the event at each entrance for $1. There are no limits to how many raffle tickets you can purchase.

“The first four rows will hold 90 people, so that’s what we are auctioning off,” Mayor Maia Schneider said. “We will draw 15 raffle tickets. Each of the winners will be allowed six slots, for family or friends.”

Children’s Activities

The Truckee Town Portrait isn’t just for adults.

Kids’ activities such as face painting, clowns, balloon animals and fun foods will transform the dusty lot east on Church Street into Truckee’s own version of a carnival.

Lisa Ellis and Ruth Hall from Sierra Nevada Children’s Services have been corresponding with Mary Lou Carson of the Truckee Town Portrait 2000 Committee to solidify plans.

“One thing our agency is trying to do is put together a story hour,” said Lisa Ellis, a child development specialist with Sierra Nevada Children’s Services.

The children’s activities coordinators held a meeting Wednesday Sept. 6 to discuss additional activities for the event.

“Non-profit fund-raising will be likely from the Children’s Museum,” Ellis said. “There will be items for sale to support local causes. The Children’s Collaborative will be raising awareness and support for the Kidszone project.”

Don’t forget to bring hats and sunscreen for the kids!

For more information or to volunteer services for children’s activities call Phebe Bell at 587-8322.


Captain Gary Botto from Truckee Fire Protection District has been organizing food for the event.

“There are numerous non-profit organization who will be providing food,” Botto said. “There will be things like tacos and burritos, smoothies, hamburgers and hot dogs. I’d like to see somebody do grilled chicken but I haven’t talked to anybody who wants to do that yet.”

Alcohol will not be allowed.

Restaurants that want to serve food for profit need to pay for a booth, which costs around $100.

For more information about providing food at the event Contact Captain Botto at 587-2773.

For more information about the Truckee Historical Society see the town of Truckee’s web site at, or, call the Historical Society Cabin at 582-0893, e-mail

For more information about volunteering call Mayor Maia Schneider at 587-4982.

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