MONMOUTH -- Flags flew at half-staff. Patriotic music boomed from the stage, causing the occasional tear.
There was definitely a different spirit at the 24-Hour Challenge Relay in Monmouth this year.
People still laughed. Still hugged. Still pitched their tents. Still walked around the track at Western Oregon University to raise money for area youth organizations.
Yet events in the wider world continue to cast long shadows. Even two weeks later.
That makes events like the relay even more important, said Dana Welborn of Monmouth. "That's why I came out. It's important to get on with life."
This is the fourth annual 24-Hour Challenge Relay. Teams of 10 people pay $400 each to take turns walking around the track at McArthur Field for 24 hours.
Money from the relay becomes mini-grants for local organization that combat drug and alcohol abuse among kids or at least offer kids positive alternatives.
Central Youth Sports, Nite Court and the YMCA are among the organizations that benefit from the relay.
Of course, there is another purpose to the relay. It can be seen in the tent city where Tracy Hamilton, on the MOMS (Mothers of Middle Schoolers) team, dares all comers to a game of "Twister."
It can be seen in the camaraderie of teams with names like the District Divas, Foot Pursuit, West Main Martyrs and Abscess All-Stars (from the Ash Creek Animal Clinic).
"This is Americana," said Independence City Manager Greg Ellis. "This is really neat. Everyone comes together."
They come together despite the obstacles. Including heat. Saturday was a scorcher for walking around a track the better part of the day.
"I was sweating like a stuck pig earlier," said Ellis. "I'm not a heat kind of guy."
A little heat can't stop the District Divas, said Central School Board member Karen Ross. It's a small price to pay to be part of the relay, she said.
"This is the social event of the fall," Ross said. "Who can you miss it?"
Janet Holm of Monmouth Elementary School, another District Diva, likes the range of people who come out for the relay. "It's so much fund to see the little kids, the older folk and everyone get so into it."
Marilyn Morton of Independence is involved in so many things, she could have walked for three different teams. She finally settled on the Job's Daughters team.
That team was big enough. So many people wanted to walk for Job's Daughters, they had selected two alternates.
Fortunately for Morton, two other potential teams (Independence Elementary and the Independence Public Library) merged to form one team.
"It was definitely hard to choose just one," she said.
Three teams came from Nite Court alone. The Nite Court program provides an open gym on weekends where kids can pursue all sorts of activities.
The Nite Court teams were mostly the kids themselves, under the leadership of Maggie Rivera.
All told, there were 23 teams this year, said Ray Brodersen, of the founders of the event. That was down a little bit from last year when the event attracted 26 teams.
Still, Brodersen said, that's a respectable number of teams and walkers will do a lot to help kids in the two communities.
The MOMS group was closed followed by a group of their kids, the JOCKS (Just Ordinary Crazy Kids). "We're here to keep an eye on our children," said Donna Muncrief of MOMS.
The MOMS, for the second year in a row, were honored as the most spirited team. What does it take to earn such a distinction?
"You have to have a team of good friends," said Hamilton.
"It also helps to be a little nuts."
The Central High boys soccer team got an award for the most laps walked. The Independence Police Department team, Foot Pursuit, came in second.
Dori Brodersen said the whole event came together nicely. "We've got some aches and pains, but other than that, we're doing fine.
"The weather was great. The gal in charge of the weather sure did a good job."