Welcome to the Goon Docks, virtually

Astoria dials back the 35th-anniversary celebration of the cult classic because of COVID-19 restrictions, but fans will still find ways to fete the film

In June 1985, as Mikey Walsh and his young friends set out from their coastal Goon Docks neighborhood in Astoria in search of hidden treasure, I was living on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula and knew nothing about his adventure. Of course, we had movie theaters there, but if The Goonies made the local big screen, I didn’t know about it.

In truth, it would be 20 years before I heard of the movie. That was 2005, the year of the first Goonies Day, hosted by the Astoria-Warrenton Area Chamber of Commerce. For those who don’t know the story, Mikey’s family is about to lose their home to the expansion of the neighboring country club. Then Mikey stumbles on a treasure map and, with his friends, sets out to find the pirate’s treasure and save their neighborhood. First, however, they must elude an evil family whose restaurant sits above the entrance to the cavern where they believe the treasure is buried.

Corey Feldman (from left), Sean Astin,, Ke Huy Quan, and Jeff Cohen starred as the pirate-treasure-hunting heroes of “The Goonies,” filmed largely in Astoria and along the Oregon Coast.
Corey Feldman (from left), Sean Astin,, Ke Huy Quan, and Jeff Cohen starred as the pirate-treasure-hunting heroes of “The Goonies,” filmed largely in Astoria and along the Oregon Coast.

It’s a fun story by Steven Spielberg that takes many viewers back to their own childhoods. But it’s more than just a family-friendly flick; its devoted fans have elevated The Goonies to a worldwide cult classic.

Astoria annually celebrates June 7 as Goonies Day, with blowouts every five years since 2005, and, since 2011, smaller events during the years in between.

“It touches people from all over the world,” said Regina Willkie, marketing manager for the chamber. “Visitors come from all over: Australia, Spain, Italy, Japan, Brazil, and all over the U.S. The fans are always so excited. They seem to adopt Astoria as a second home.”

This summer was to be the 35th anniversary celebration. And it still will be – in the virtual world.

Unfortunately, Willkie already had experience with cancellations caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Participants in a Goonies Day baking contest will riff on this Sloth cake created by the Hive Bakery in Flower Mound, Texas.
Participants in a Goonies Day baking contest will riff on this Sloth cake created by the Hive Bakery in Flower Mound, Texas.

“We had already been through that process, because we had canceled the seafood and wine festival” scheduled for April, Willkie said. By the end of April, she said, it became clear government restrictions were unlikely to lift sufficiently for the full Goonies Day to be held and for visitors to make travel plans. “Six-foot social distancing just wouldn’t pencil,” she said. “It’s heartbreaking canceling both of those events. Our community counts on those.”

Fans still will find plenty of ways to honor the film. The chamber has partnered with the Rube Goldberg Machine Contest to create a machine to drop a bar of soap into someone’s hand — a nod to both the pandemic (wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands) and to the elaborate contraption in the movie used to open the door to Mikey’s house. The chamber will announce the winner June 7.

A costume contest and a bake-off are under way now through May 31. Actor Adam F. Goldberg will take part in a live stream Q&A on June 7. Goldberg is apparently a big fan and is rumored to have written his own sequel — apparently not at all unusual. “I’ve had fans walk in the door with printed-out scripts and say, ‘Hey I wrote a sequel,’” Willkie said. “It’s something people do, a creative outlet.”

Tentative plans call for an in-person One-Eyed Willy Treasure Hunt on June 5, depending on the status of government restrictions at that time.

Fans are disappointed about the curtailed events, of course, but understanding, she said.

Long before social distancing, crowds gathered in Astoria for a panel discussion as part of the 30th annual Goonies Day in 2015. This year’s event will largely be held virtually. Photo courtesy: Astoria-Warrenton Area Chamber of Commerce
Long before social distancing, crowds gathered in Astoria for a panel discussion as part of the 30th annual Goonies Day in 2015. This year’s event will largely be held virtually. Photo courtesy: Astoria-Warrenton Area Chamber of Commerce

“The fans are pretty excited to have something to do, even if not in person,” Willkie said. “They enjoy getting together and seeing each other. A lot have been coming since 2005. They are missing out on the opportunity to stay up all night talking on the beach and catching up.”

But, she added, they’re adapting, noting this is not the first event to be canceled and or  offered virtually. Even if they can’t come to Astoria in June, they’re trying to support and contribute to the community. “They’re looking at rebooking the trip another time, and finding the shops they like to visit online and purchasing things,” Willkie said. “It’s kind of cool to see.”

Join the discussion

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.