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Staff Spotlight: Shanna Lien

Every month we like to introduce one of our staff members so you can get to know them better. This month, our Commercial Agent Shanna shares her passion for fishing, reading, fishing, fall weather, and of course fishing!

You won the lottery! What’s your first purchase?

Airline tickets! I’d love to explore New Zealand & Australia with my husband for their unique fishing opportunities.

Share one thing you love to do that you always strive to include in your daily routine.

I love to read, I can’t go anywhere without bringing a book with me. I always try to fit reading into my daily routine as it offers me a chance to unplug from my phone and other distractions life may bring.

What are some of your favorite hobbies or activities?

If you ask anyone who knows me, they would immediately answer that my one true passion is fishing. This is 100% accurate; most weekends I am targeting some species of fish on our local rivers and lakes. My current favorite fishery is Spring Chinook Salmon, because it provides a good challenge and the pay off when landing a “Springer” is an unbeatable experience.

Tell us about one of your most memorable experiences.

One of my most memorable experiences was when my husband and I got our corgi, Boo. We had been waiting months for a puppy and got the call one afternoon that a buyer in front of us had dropped out and we could pick up our puppy that evening. We were completely unprepared but immediately bought all the puppy supplies and drove to a little farm in Colton, OR to meet our newest family member. Almost 10 years later and I remember it like it was yesterday, Boo is the best dog that we could have ever asked for and she fits into our active lifestyle perfectly.

What is your favorite Biggs story?

There are too many too name, instead my favorite thing in general about Biggs Insurance is how we really are like family. Every Tuesday, I meet two Biggs retirees (Jamie Shindler & Jo Kramer) for a standing coffee date and often other Biggs employees past and present will show up and it’s always like no time has passed at all.

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what is the one thing you couldn’t live without?

A fishing rod, of course!

Is your favorite season spring, summer, winter, or fall – and why?

Fall; I love the warm days and cool nights, fishing picks up on the Columbia River, and I’m in a fantasy football league with my closest friends that is always a ton of fun.

What does success look like to you?

Success to me is built on providing the best customer service to each one of my clients and them knowing that I always strive to meet their needs as well as educate them on insurance-related topics. Hopefully I’m making a difference in my clients’ lives by providing a strong trusting relationship that not only helps my career succeed, but their business as well.

You can find Shanna’s contact information on our Team page!

Leaving fully insured to go self-funded

There are two methods of financing the cost of an employee benefit plan – one is Fully Insured, where the employer pays a predetermined premium to a given carrier; the other, which has grown increasingly popular in recent years, is Self Funding, where the employer directly assumes the financial risk of providing health care to its employees. Self-Funded plans have numerous advantages – controlling costs is easier, and you can tailor your coverage to the needs of your workforce – but there are also drawbacks; namely, the employer must have sufficient financial resources to pay for claim costs.

Our Life&Health Broker and VP, Tyson Fuehrer, created a quick primer on some of the reasons more groups are opting to go self-funded:

You can find Tyson’s contact information on our Team page!

Contractor’s equipment: rent, buy, borrow or refurbish?

For contractors, equipment can be the lifeblood of a business, and keeping your construction equipment running well can be critical to a project’s success. When you need equipment, you review your anticipated work volumes and your fleet management to determine equipment needs. Then, it comes down to this: should I rent, lease, buy, borrow or refurbish? The choice can have a long-lasting impact on your business, especially for more expensive pieces of equipment.

Our friends at Travelers weighed the benefits and risks to these options for filling your equipment needs, and provided some tips to help make sure you’re properly covered:

Equipment Rental or Leasing

Insurance Considerations

Contractor’s equipment insurance policies can have different rules for rented, borrowed, and leased equipment as compared to the rules that may apply to equipment that is purchased. For example, the policy might not provide coverage for or may limit the value of rented, borrowed or leased equipment or it might exclude certain activities, such as waterborne construction.

Likewise, if the rental agent provides equipment rental insurance, you must pay attention to what’s covered and what’s not. This insurance might only cover damage from certain hazards, like fire. It may also exclude coverage if you lend the nonowned piece of equipment to someone else. Review the terms and condition carefully to ensure you don’t find yourself in a position without coverage.

Lastly, if you borrow equipment from another contractor, review your coverage carefully with your agent. You’ll want to be certain there aren’t any gaps in coverage for this scenario.

Buying Construction Equipment

Insurance Considerations

If you decide to buy construction equipment, you should make sure it’s covered under the right insurance. For example, if you buy a new concrete pump truck, is there coverage under your contractor insurance policy or the vehicle policy?

Some activities could also be excluded, like overloading a crane. You should review with your insurance agent how you plan on using the equipment to see if it’s all covered.

Contractor’s equipment policies typically have a reporting requirement for newly acquired equipment. This policy condition requires you to notify your insurer whenever you buy equipment that exceeds the policy limits. Ask your insurance agent whether your policy has such a condition so that you can ensure you are notifying your carrier within the specified timeframe.

Finally, you should insure the new piece of equipment to its correct value. This is simple for brand-new equipment, as it’s the purchase price. But correctly valuating used equipment can be more difficult. You should work with your agent to determine the correct valuation.

Using Refurbished Equipment

Insurance Considerations

With refurbished equipment, the main insurance concern is determining the correct valuation. If the insurance company values the equipment based solely on its age, it could underestimate its worth. To avoid undervaluation, request that your policy list an agreed value for refurbished equipment.

Source: Travelers Construction Insights

Staff Spotlight: Lisa Chavez

Every month we like to introduce one of our staff members so you can get to know them better. This month, our terrific receptionist Lisa talks about the impactful time she spent running a mobile food pantry in her community.

You won the lottery! What’s your first purchase?

College educations for my four grandchildren.

Share one thing you love to do that you always strive to include in your daily routine.

Helping others.

What are some of your favorite hobbies or activities?

Volunteering, knitting, music and watching sports.

Tell us about one of your most memorable experiences.

While working as a Nutrition Coordinator at a Community Action Program I had the pleasure of running a Mobile Food Pantry.  Once a month Food Lifeline would send a semi-truck full of grocery rescue food that we would distribute with the help of volunteers to 100-150 households in a low income neighborhood.  People would be lined up before we even arrived and were so grateful.

What is your favorite Biggs story?

Most recently, we had an amazing time at the staff bowling party.  The Biggs Activity Committee does an amazing job and I have several stories but I think my favorite is how time and again Biggs employees gives back to local charities in our community.

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what is the one thing you couldn’t live without?

My toothbrush.

Is your favorite season spring, summer, winter, or fall – and why?

Summer because I love the sunshine, the heat, BBQs, the river and the beach.

What does success look like to you?

Success to me is being happy with who you are and how you treat others.

What was your first job?

A courtesy clerk at Kelso Safeway.

If you had a superpower, what would it be?

Compassion and empathy.

Working from home? You might need more coverage

Thinking of starting a work-from-home business? Our friends at PEMCO spoke with a local news outlet about how typical personal property policies might not cover all your needs:

A lot of small businesses are now home-based, but traditional homeowners insurance may not keep up with the ‘work at home’ lifestyle.

The experts at PEMCO Insurance said you may need to look into more coverage.

“Homeowners insurance normally doesn’t protect if a customer is at your home and gets injured or if they claim that your product makes them sick or infringes on a patent or maybe your advertising defames them,” said Allison Leepe, the Social Impact Manager at PEMCO Insurance.

PEMCO provided a list of examples of people who may need extra insurance:

When trying to decide what kind of insurance you need, Leepe said it’s best to ask your insurance agent or broker.

“You might discover that you need a true business owners policy which is often referred to as BOP,” said Leep. “It’s that kind of coverage and policy that is going to give you protection for legal liability. If someone is going to sue you, we hope that never happens, but if it does that really could save your business and maybe even your financial life.”

Whoever you talk to can help identify the risks you might face with a business at home.

Source: Q13FOX

Spring launch safety checklist 🚤

It’s almost time for summer fun! Working your way through this checklist will help make sure your boat’s ready to go when you are.

Getting started













Boats ashore






Outdrives and outboards




Engines and related systems















Sailboat rigging






Source: Boat US Magazine

Talking healthcare in D.C.: an(other) interview with our President, Greg Seifert

If you’re following us on Facebook, you might’ve seen a recent post from our President Greg Seifert pictured in Sen. Maria Cantwell’s office during his trip to the National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU)’s annual conference in Washington D.C. We interviewed him after he took part in last year’s conference and people seemed excited to learn about the goings-on, so this year our team member Zoe sat down with him once again to chat about his conversations with policymakers, a bipartisan caucus doing admirable work, his stance on Medicare for All, and more.

Z: Let’s start with the basics: what is the structure of the conference like?

G: The Capitol Conference is the annual fly-in for the National Association of Health Underwriters in Washington D.C. It includes leadership training on Sunday, since a lot of the attendees are officers of local and state chapters; the rest of the conference, the normal legislative things, start Monday. That first morning, a local high school marching band opens the event up on stage decked out in their uniforms – it’s really cool, lots of drums. Our hotel, the Hyatt Regency, is just a couple blocks from the capitol building so it only takes five or ten minutes to get to our meetings, plus it’s right near the train station; very handy.

Z: Any particularly memorable conversations with elected officials, or standout talks?

G: We had some great meetings and speakers all week. We always have a great meeting with Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler, which was the case again this year. Another speaker that stood out for me was a Congressman Josh Gottheimer from New Jersey: he’s one of the leaders of the Problem Solvers Caucus, a bipartisan group of Republicans and Democrats. This is a group where it is quite a process to get in; they interview you, they don’t just let anybody join because there’s a fairly big commitment: you have to agree that the reason you’re there is to actually do things. Many believe Congress hasn’t done anything major in about 50 years and instead have let the courts decide major issues in radical ways, when they could’ve taken a more moderate approach with some bipartisan effort. These guys are saying ‘We’re here to solve problems, we’re not here to just spin our wheels and yak and investigate,’ so the agreement is that if 70% of the group agrees on how to vote on a piece of legislation, then all of them have to vote the same direction. So even if 30% don’t agree, the deal is that if the majority percent is on board for this, we vote as a bloc. And he gave some examples of different things they’d done – they had come out with a proposal for immigration reform, for instance; it’s like, there’s a problem, let’s come up with a reasonable solution that might not please everybody but at least there’s action being taken. They identify issues that they believe are important and that their group thinks are worth taking on, that they believe they can reach consensus on. They spend the time to develop proposals and legislation, and they take positions on existing legislation. He commented that caucus’ members from both sides are taking heat from their own parties.

Here’s the mentality – this will blow you away – if there’s a proposal that makes sense and it comes from one party, the other party won’t support it because they can’t fathom the idea of giving the other party a victory. It’s so political; they know that what’ll happen is the party taking credit will trot it out at the next election cycle and say ‘Look what we did!’, and that in turn makes the opposing party look bad. And while I get that attitude to some extent, that’s the deal you signed up for. You signed up to get stuff done, but both sides are reluctant to give the other a win; even if the legislation makes sense. So these guys craft solutions jointly so that ultimately, if it gets passed, it won’t look like a victory for either side. You can read more about it online – they’re part of a broader group called ‘No Labels.’

A little bit about NAHU: we’re a professional organization, an educational organization, and an political advocacy organization in the healthcare/Medicare reform area, and so in order to do these things we have a PAC, and we’re actually a top 5 healthcare PAC in Washington D.C. We are well-respected (I believe) on both sides of the aisle as experts on healthcare and health insurance.

Z: Yeah – not everyone can be an expert so you need those groups to bring their knowledge to the table and weigh in.

G: Yes, and to give you an example of that, we had a really great meeting with Senator Cantwell and her aide Nico where we discussed some common-ground issues – including a little-known issue with Medicare eligibility: when you come off your employer plan, if it’s creditable coverage, even though you’re past your initial Medicare enrollment, you can sign up for Part B late and you don’t get penalized. Any other time, if you sign up for Part B late and you’re not coming off creditable coverage, then you have a premium penalty of 10% for the rest of your life. But if I go off the Biggs’ plan and onto COBRA continuation, and then I sign up for Part B down the road, I have a penalty – even though it’s the same plan I had at work. And the reason for that is in order to avoid the Part B penalty, you have to be on a plan that’s tied to your active employment (or your spouse’s active employment) – if you leave your job, even if you go on COBRA, you no longer have the active employment connection.

So people can be hit by this penalty, because they don’t know about any of that; in fact there are people that do what I do for a living that don’t know, so how is a regular person who’s been on their employer plan supposed to know how Medicare rules treat a COBRA plan vs. a non-COBRA plan? And the same thing applies if I go onto a retiree plan – you have to be coming right off of active employment.

So we covered all this in our meeting with Senator Cantwell; we talked about the Health Insurance Tax, we talked about our reasons wanting to repeal the Cadillac Tax – which has been pushed off time and time again. I think it’s now been delayed till the end of 2022. We discussed why it doesn’t make sense and how hard employer-paid plans are going to be hit by this. The problem is all legislation in D.C. has two sides: it has the ‘what does it do?’ side and it has the ‘what’s the financial aspect?’ side. Some legislation costs money; for example, components of the ACA such as the premium assistance cost a lot of money – to help people buy health insurance, you’re giving them money, that’s the cost side. Well other aspects of the legislation, like the Health Insurance Tax that we’re paying as part of our premium, are revenue generators to offset the cost. When they score a bill, if it’s going to cost something, they have to have a solution for the revenue side. So while it makes sense to eliminate the Cadillac Tax, the next question is how would we recover that revenue?

Z: Anything you wish had gone differently?

G: Well the conversations aren’t always great. We’ve had conversations with leaders that were not fun at all. The ACA is still this football that’s being tossed back and forth, it’s highly political; it’s like you don’t want to touch it because if you’re talking to one party, they think it’s great (for the most part), and if you’re talking to the other party, they think it’s garbage, while the reality is generally somewhere in between. For the meetings, if you’re perceived to take a position in the wrong direction, conversation basically shuts down.

But we had several productive meetings with our elected representatives; those meetings are pretty much Tuesday afternoon and all-day Wednesday. We always have some first-timers and we had some this year – it’s a really fun experience for them.

One of our Washington State reps, Congresswoman DelBene of the 1st District spoke in one of the morning sessions… she got booed twice, I think, after she hinted that she was in favor of Medicare For All. Even after that less than friendly reception we had a nice one-on-one meeting after she spoke – one of our members who was a first-timer, Molly, lives in her district and she and I went off to the side with the Congresswoman and she was very gracious.

To return to Medicare for All for a moment: as an organization we believe that Medicare for All would mean bad healthcare for all and would really mean Medicare for none, because it would destroy Medicare as we know it and the seniors who have it currently would end up with something very different. When they do these polls you might’ve seen in the news, people are saying ‘70% of people are in favor of Medicare for All’ – well to me those polls are simplifying the issue, asking ‘Do you think people should have health insurance?’ and of course the answer is ‘Well yes!’ ‘Do you think they should have affordable health insurance?’ ‘Well yes.’ ‘Well if Medicare for all did that then wouldn’t that be great?’ ‘Yes!’ However there should then be follow-up questions like ‘Would you still support if it means you’re going to lose your personal health insurance?’ ‘Well, no.’ ‘Would you still support it if it meant the seniors who have Medicare now would be losing it?’ ‘Well no.’ ‘Would you still support it if it meant your payroll tax would go through the roof?’ ‘Well no.’ So what happens is that 70% number drops to more like 40% if you clarify what you’re really asking and the consequences of Medicare for All. Thus we’re not a fan of any of the single-payor proposals; we believe that the quality of healthcare would dive significantly in our country if we had that. Here’s a video made by a coalition of which NAHU is a part that explains it really well.

Z: Tell me more about yours and NAHU’s stance on this issue.

G: What I’ve maintained for a long time is that if someone believes everybody should be insured and that it should be through the government, I’d then ask whether you feel it’s fair for the doctors to get paid at Medicare reimbursement levels, generally perceived to be less than it cost to provide the care. Many people say that isn’t fair, and I then ask what makes them think that the government would want to put a plan in place that would pay more than Medicare? You’ve got Medicaid, which pays less than Medicare; you’ve got Medicare which pays at Medicare levels…

And this is being negotiated in our own backyard: in Olympia this year there’s a bill for a public option plan in the individual market, because individual coverage is so expensive. They’re trying to find a solution to provide richer coverage that costs less. So the logic was ‘we need a plan that costs less, we need to pay less for claims, at Medicare levels or close to it.’ Here’s the problem: you have a public option plan that’s got Medicare reimbursement levels, and then you have market-based plans paying claims at negotiated commercial levels, which are 30-40% more. So the same claims would be 30-40% more costly, meaning they have to price their product 30-40% higher than the public option plan. So then what’s going to happen to the commercial market, to consumer choice? It’s going to go away.

The other consequence is that small employers, who I’ve worked with for years, are going to look at this and think ‘Well gosh, my employees can get coverage for their dependents for 40% less than I’m paying by going to this public option plan, so why should I offer an employer-paid plan? It’s not helping them and it’s costing me an arm and a leg.’ So what they’re going to do is take advantage of a new Health Reimbursement Arrangement, HRA law, that says employers can use HRAs to give employees money to buy individual coverage – they take the money that they’re spending now (or even less), and say ‘Okay, we’re going to give you what we’re paying now in cash, and you go out and pick your coverage with pre-tax dollars.’ So it would probably also destroy the small group market in the state of Washington. It sounds great – it would cost less, and I love the idea of people being able to afford health insurance, because they can’t right now.

One opinion is to look at premium subsidies, at some other way of reducing cost; and part of the proposed legislation is a study of what they could do with premium subsidies at the state level. So there’s things in the bill that make sense and it’s clear that these lawmakers get the idea that it’s claims that drive premium – not commissions, not CEO salaries, claims. It’s just that the destruction of the commercial individual market and the small group market is a big price to pay to come up with this plan.

Z: Tell me about some non-conference-related memories of the trip.

L: Vietnam Women’s Memorial, designed by Glenna Goodacre; R: The Three Soldiers, designed by Frederick Hart

G: Well of course we checked out the monuments; my wife Karen joined me on Wednesday… we were supposed to bring our grandsons but they got snowed in in Bend – they had 2½ feet of snow on the ground for like, a week. We went to the changing of the guard and I’d never been there when one of the guards was a woman, that was cool to see. Plus we always visit the Kennedy Eternal Flame at Arlington – that’s very sobering. I always enjoy reading the text of one of John Kennedy’s speeches – the one where he said ‘Ask not what your country can do for you’ – that’s engraved on the cement behind the memorial; very impactful. And finally I took some time to appreciate the statues at either end of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, one of three soldiers gazing out over the wall and one of three nurses assisting a wounded soldier. It’s just this portrait of war that’s extremely moving and well-rendered.

If you want to get in touch with Greg, you can find his contact information on our Team page!

Staff Spotlight: Derek Thurston

Every month we like to introduce one of our staff members so you can get to know them better. This month, our Life&Health Broker Derek talks about his passion for sports and the great outdoors!

You won the lottery! What’s your first purchase?

If I won the lottery my first purchase would be a professional sports team, preferably the Portland Trailblazers! I’m a huge fan and since the late, great Paul Allen has passed away (RIP PA), there is an open Owner’s seat! It would definitely be a dream come true.

Share one thing you love to do that you always strive to include in your daily routine.

I’m a huge believer in a daily stretching routine. Playing college sports, I learned long ago the benefits of stretching and staying limber. I just don’t feel the same without a good stretch!

What are some of your favorite hobbies or activities?

I love sports and the outdoors, so most of my free time I can be found on the basketball court or on the golf course! I also enjoy hiking, camping, and the occasional concert or show.

Tell us about one of your most memorable experiences.

One of my most memorable experiences was being able to visit Fenway Park with my Dad in the summer of 2017. We are huge Boston Red Sox fans and we had such a great time, we are planning another visit this summer with the rest of my family. I can’t wait to go back!

What is your favorite Biggs story?

My favorite Biggs story has to be from our Annual Christmas party this past December. We were greeted at the door by our COO Rich Biggs, wearing a Christmas themed suit and tie and a Santa hat. It was hilarious and really set the tone for a fun night with our Biggs staff!

Is your favorite season spring, summer, winter, or fall – and why?

Summer and it’s not even close. Growing up in the NW, you learn to love the sunshine (when it’s here)! SO many more outdoors activities to do, plus, I’m a summer birthday – so who doesn’t like summer birthday parties?

If you had a superpower, what would it be?

My superpower would have to be light-speed travel. If I want to be on a beach somewhere in the Caribbean, I’d like to be there like, NOW!

Staff Spotlight: Sharla Parker

Every month we like to introduce one of our staff members so you can get to know them better. This month, our Personal Lines Account Manager Sharla tells us about her adoration of all things pumpkin-flavored!

You won the lottery! What’s your first purchase?

I’m going with the first thing that came to my mind. . . a couple ornery goats for my husband 😉

Share one thing you love to do that you always strive to include in your daily routine.

I meditate and read my devotional every morning, not using my phone! It grounds me and preps me for my day.

What are some of your favorite hobbies or activities?

Retreats with girlfriends, traveling to new places, reading, hanging out with my husband.

Tell us about one of your most memorable experiences.

Sailing on a 71 foot Catamaran for a week. I entered a writing contest (Canvasback Missions, created to deliver free dental, medical, and eye care to remote islands), won and learned how to sail at age 16 with nine other peers. We learned the value of teamwork, hard work and discipline. I still have a love of sailing!

What is your favorite Biggs story?

Not sure about favorite story; however my favorite moments are Fishbowl Fridays. This brings all our departments together, weekly, in a fun way. Editor’s note: Fishbowl Fridays are a great Biggs tradition that brightens up the colder months: each new account written by our team of producers in a given week results in a cash bill being placed in a fishbowl, and every Friday for a ~2 month period, we have our whole crew line up and draw bills from the bowl – it’s always exciting!

If you were stranded on a desert island, what’s the one thing you couldn’t live without?

My husband because he is like MacGyver!

Is your favorite season spring, summer, winter, or fall – and why?

Fall because of pumpkin beer, pumpkin bread, pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin pie, pumpkin chocolate chip muffins, pumpkin soups, pumpkin décor, and more pumpkin beer.

What does success look like to you?

Internal joy.

What was your first job?

I worked in a cafeteria at a private boarding school at age 14.

If you had a superpower, what would it be?

I would love to be a healer. I would heal everyone from any mental or physical ailment.

What’s one challenge you’ve faced in life that you’re proud to have overcome?

I’ve had many challenges, but the two most difficult were my youngest son being diagnosed with cancer and my oldest son losing his dad to a violent crime. The resolve to be a forgiving and faith-filled human being and watching my boys manage these challenges have been by far the most difficult things I have faced.

Easter 2019 Celebrations in Vancouver, WA!

A very ‘Hoppy’ Easter to all! 🐰 Here are several fun outings in our area for you and your little bunnies to enjoy.

‘Bunny Cares’ Sensory-Friendly Easter Bunny Photo Op

Sunday April 7, 9:30am-11:00am

Vancouver Mall (JCPenney Court)

8700 Northeast Vancouver Mall Dr.

Vancouver, WA 98662

People within every spectrum of special needs and their families are invited to a private photo session, to experience the time-honored tradition of a visit with the Easter Bunny during dedicated hours. Please reserve your complimentary ticket on Eventbrite – ONE TICKET per group/family, please.

Easter Egg Hunt at Esther Short Park

Saturday April 20, 10:00am-11:00am*

605 Esther St.

Vancouver, WA 98660

Activate Church is happy to present a FREE Easter Egg Hunt in beautiful Esther Short Park! Featuring 20,000 eggs, face painting, balloon animals, a bouncy slide and pictures with the Easter Bunny, this hunt is sure to please children of all ages!

*Schedule is broken out by age group – see website for more.

Rabbit Romp at the Oregon Zoo

Saturday April 20, 9:30am-3:00pm

4001 Southwest Canyon Rd.

Portland, OR 97221

Welcome spring with candy hunts, coloring activities, and farm animal talks at Rabbit Romp! There will be two separate hunts on the concert lawn — one for kids 3-10 and one for kids 2 and under. The hunts for candy and prizes will take place every 15-20 minutes between 9:30 a.m. and 3 p.m; hunters should bring their own baskets. Full schedule on website.

Easter Day Egg Hunt in Crown Park

Sunday April 21, 1:30pm-3:30pm

1601 NE Everett St.

Camas, WA 98607

Camas Parks & Recreation presents a free, no-registration-required hunt for candy, prizes, and toy-filled plastic eggs for ages 2 to 12; all ages start at the same time (1:30pm sharp!) – bring your own basket. Easter Bunny on site, hat and bonnet contest to follow egg hunt. Event held rain or shine. No animals allowed in park.