Log rolling back at July 4th celebration

Jordan Beck | Daily Press Dan McDonough, left, and Katie Burke, co-directors of the 2019 U.S. Log Rolling Open, warm up for the upcoming event in Gladstone’s Van Cleve Park Thursday. The event is set to begin at 11 a.m. on July 4 on the island in Van Cleve Park.

GLADSTONE — The U.S. Log Rolling Open, which took place in Gladstone last year, will once again be held in the community on Independence Day. A media day for the upcoming event took place in Van Cleve Park Thursday.

The 2018 U.S. Log Rolling Open marked the return of a long-running tradition to Gladstone, Katie Burke said. She is once again serving as the event’s co-director in charge of planning and competition.

“Gladstone has a deep history of log rolling,” she said.

The community held world championships for log rolling in the 1930s and ’40s. Log rolling-related events continued in Gladstone through the late ’90s, including another world championship in 1999.

For much of the 21st century’s first two decades, however, log rolling was essentially absent from Gladstone. This changed when the U.S. Log Rolling Open was held there last Independence Day.

“It was nice to have it back — it kind of feels like (it’s) at home,” Dan McDonough, co-director in charge of tournament operations and nine-time world champion log roller, said.

McDonough and Burke both have ties to the area. McDonough grew up in Escanaba, and Burke won an amateur world title in Gladstone in 1999.

This year’s U.S. Log Rolling Open is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. on July 4 and continue for three or four hours.

“We hope people come on over and watch any time on the Fourth of July,” Burke said.

Last year’s U.S. Log Rolling Open took place on Gladstone’s lagoon. For 2019, the location of the event will change — it will instead be held on the island in Van Cleve Park, as was the case for local log rolling events in the past.

“It’s the traditional spot,” McDonough said.

One thing that will not be changing about the U.S. Log Rolling Open this year is the involvement of professional log rollers. A total of 19 competitors will be coming to Gladstone — including Livi Pappadopoulos, who won last year’s event.

“We have all top eight professional women as currently seeded,” Burke said.

As she is ranked eighth in the world for professional women’s log rolling, Burke is set to compete as part of the group.

The world’s number-one ranked men’s log roller, Tanner Hallett, will also be involved with the U.S. Log Rolling Open in 2019. The same is true for Anthony Polentini, 2018 U.S. Log Rolling Open men’s champion.

Burke said U.S. Log Rolling Open participants and Gladstone residents have responded positively to the event’s presence in the area.

“They’re really liking having the sport back in Gladstone … because it brings back a lot of history and roots,” she said.

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