Make a Day of It: Plaid Tidings presented by Enlightened Theatrics

Run Oregon loves running – that’s no surprise. But we also love the Pacific Northwest and all that it has to offer. Running is a part of us, but it does not fully define us. In our new “Make a Day of It” feature, we aim to showcase some great local non-running events and highlight where to run and how to make the most of your experience!

The next installment of this series is Plaid Tidings presented by Enlightened Theatrics at the Historic Grand Theater in Salem.

First the running:

The Historic Grand Theater is right in the heart of downtown Salem. Parking is plentiful and there are a solid number of short runs that can be started from anywhere in the downtown corridor.

  • Riverfront Park: This is probably the most accessible and easiest way to get in a few miles. If you are looking for more than a few, you may need to complete a few loops, but that’s not all bad. I would recommend starting near the Salem Carousel and heading on the trails that circle the park. You will be able to see the almost-finished bridge (which will eventually connect to Minto Brown Park – see below) and the Sternwheeler parked on the Willamette. Take the Union Street Pedestrian Bridge over the river into West Salem and add some miles by hitting some road and paved trails in Wallace Marine Park.
  • Bush Park: This park is just a few blocks south of the downtown area and is home to Willamette University’s baseball and football stadiums. The bark trails that surround this park can be a bit soggy in the winter, but are a staple for urban trail running here in town. Again, the park is not huge, but there are plenty of options to circle and use different paved and bark trails to increase mileage. Willamette’s Cross Country team (and many area high schools) use these trails for meets. And Willamette’s own running pride-and-joy Nick Symmonds undoubtedly got in some miles on these trails as well.
  • Minto Brown Park: Minto Brown is the “must-run” area in Salem. This giant park (which will eventually connect up with Riverfront Park via the new connector bridge) already has 20 miles of paved, dirt, gravel, and paved trails. You can run with beautiful views of the Willamette River, under tree-lined canopies, and near waterfowl sanctuaries. This is my favorite place to run in Salem, for the sheer ability to put in miles and have quiet scenery the whole time. I wouldn’t necessarily run here when it’s dark (the isolation of the location makes it not the best idea), but it’s a great spot during the daylight hours.

If you are looking to make a complete day of it, I would suggest stopping in at our growing number of really good restaurants. Check out Venti’s, Union Barrel, Table FIVE08, The Kitchen at Court Street, or Paradiso – the last 2 of which are right at the Grand Theater building. If you want to grab a coffee, dessert, or beer before heading home, check out Archive, Amadeus Cafe, or 1859 Cider Company, respectively.

Now to the details to the experience itself:

When people think “theater” in Salem, often the first thought is to the Historic Elsinore Theater. But while it is smaller, the Grand Theater was actually built 26 years prior, in 1900, as a lodge hall and opera house in the heart of downtown Salem. John Philip Sousa performed at the grand opening and there was even an annex containing a hotel and bus terminal there over time. The building itself is now home to a variety of local shops and restaurants, but has been re-energized as a performing space within the past few years.

The 382 seat theater is home to Enlightened Theatrics, Salem’s “Broadway to Salem” musical theater company. Over the next few weeks, they will be putting on Plaid Tidings, a 4-person musical masterpiece described as:

[f]illed with Christmas tunes that have all been “Plaid-erized”.  Francis, Jinx, Smudge and Sparky are back for their Christmas special. Returning to Earth for another posthumous performance, The Plaids are tasked with putting a little harmony into a discordant world. Numbers include their riotous three-minute-and-eleven-second version of The Ed Sullivan Show, with the Rockettes, the Chipmunks, The Vienna Boys Choir and more!

I attended the November 22nd dress rehearsal with my two kids (7 & 4) and we ALL had a great time and left with smiles on our faces. The theater experience is fantastic – truly a feeling of stepping back in time – and the rows provided plenty of space and legroom.

The show itself was simply amazing – I can’t even do it justice

The cast (4 singers, 1 pianist, and 1 bassist) are all super talented and I could hardly believe that these guys were in Salem! Even though the dress rehearsal was to work out small kinks and such, everyone still brought amazing energy and the small crowd was obviously incredibly receptive, as they provided a standing ovation at the end of the night. I personally don’t really “do” standing ovations, but I was happy to commit in this instance – it was just that good. It provided a little classic holiday music that was uplifting, funny, and carefree. Don’t we all need a little bit more of that in our lives during this time of year?

2016 Event Dates:

  • November 25 – December 11 (Wednesdays – Sundays)


  • Wednesday – Saturday at 7:30pm
  • Saturday & Sunday at 2pm

Cost: Purchase tickets here:


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About Author

Matt Rasmussen lives in Keizer, Ore. with his wife and three daughters. He enjoys watching hockey, going to as many breweries (618) and wineries (152) as he can, and all things Canada (he was born there). Matt was raised as a baseball player and officially transitioned over to running in 2010.

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