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VIRTUAL ROSE FESTIVAL: Parading in Place

Friday, May 29, 2020

I grew up in Portland, Oregon. Each June we look forward to the Rose Festival activities, especially the Grand Floral Parade through downtown Portland. My whole family would gather along the parade route and thrill to the beautifully decorated floats and the sound of our High School marching bands.

Here is a picture taken at the 1954 Parade


There is a long tradition of citizen participation in the parade. We always took our roses to the local fire station and helped to decorate the engines. This picture is from 1908. (No, I was not present for that parade!!)


Here’s a lively group of ladies showing their Festival Spirit in a more recent parade. Please note the dark glasses and damp streets. Portlanders admit that usually the first week of June is either rainy or 90+ degrees. Looks like they are dressed for any weather.




This year is different. It looks like the Portland area will remain under the Stay at Home order. (Hopefully we will be ready for Phase 1 – reopening later in June) Therefore the streets will not be filled with people, marching bands, and floral floats. Here’s what the creative people at the Rose Festival Association decided to do so lots of people could participate.



"This virtual parade will feature shoe box floats from community members, a celebration of marching bands, and other Rose Festival parade favorites. Just like the early Rose Festival parades that used Portlanders’ own roses to decorate the floats, participants are invited to use materials from home to build shoe box parade floats and submit photos to be included in the live stream."

Isn't that a grand idea? My daughter and I decided to make a shoe box float to enter. We had a truly fun time putting it all together. Here's the plan we started with:



Our main theme was to be the Portland International Rose Gardens. They are in the West Hills looking East toward Mt. Hood. This is one of our favorite views so we named our float "Old Friends".


Then came lots of cutting and pasting to wrap our shoe box with these beautiful scenes.


We tried one final touch - a rose arbor like the ones in the garden. It wasn't easy trying to adapt and fit these flowers. Here's the result:


We weren't sure which version we liked better - the one with the arbor or the one without. So we sent both pictures for the Petite Parade so they could choose whichever they preferred.

We had fun and were surprised by how well the whole project developed.

I hope you will be able to "attend" the Parade on June 6th. We can all enjoy it together!



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