Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Portland's Rose Festival & Grand Floral Parade

My favorite float from the Make a Wish Foundation.

  You know, Portland is called the Rose City, for several reasons.

  Along with being famously weird, and its rain, its food carts, and Nike, Portland is also known for its roses. The most commonly referenced reason for the rose moniker comes from the International Rose Test Gardens, where hundreds of rose varieties are grown and experimented.

  Apparently roses grow like crazy in Portland. So the city wanted to put that to good use, and as early as 1919, there have been test gardens in the city.

Two other favorites floats.
  But most-likely, the 'City of Roses' origin came from former mayor, Harry Lane. In 1905, Lane came up with the idea of an ongoing festival dedicated to roses.

  Two years later, Portland held its first Rose Festival.

  Today, the Rose Festival is possibly the most-popular time to visit Portland, the with the Grand Floral Parade being the
highlight of the three-weekend long city

  Even though we haven't officially hit summertime yet, many would call the Rose Festival the centerpiece of summer in Portland. Though many years, summer still seems a long time off during Rose Festival.

  I have a vivid memory of the Rose Festival as a kid. It's not one of bright, sun-shiny skies, however. I remember one particularly-wet CityFair where my family and I braved a soggy, smelly waterfront park, all in the name of riding a few amusement park rides.

The Festival
  Optimistic city leaders started the festival in 1907, with hopes of putting Portland on the map and branding it the 'summer capital of the world.' While I'm not so sure they've reached that lofty goal, Portland's Rose Festival has become quite the attraction -- drawing over a million visitors to the city each year. And for those who live in the the Portland-Metro area, it's something to look forward to when June rolls around every year.

CityFair 2012 -- notice the black sky.

  The Rose Festival is filled with different events -- most of them centered around Portland's waterfront downtown.

  There are three parades, a two-week long amusement park -- CityFair, firework displays, a 5k run, Dragon Boat Races, the Queen's Coronation, and of course, the Grand Floral Parade. There's a little something for everyone.

  Sadly, this year there was one thing missing from the Rose Festival: the Navy ships.

Fleet Week 2012.
  Since the very first festival, navy ships and other fleet-related vessels (submarines, for example) have made their way to Portland's waterfront for Fleet Week. It gave the city and the people of Portland an opportunity to celebrate and thank the military, and also for active personnel to come to port for the week.

  But this year, due to the Navy sequestration and budget concerns, the ships were not able to attend Rose Festival. Hopefully that does not become the trend for good.

The Grand Floral Parade
  I've attended the Grand Floral Parade a handful of times. And this year happened to be one of them. The weather forecast was clear; we were in for a beautiful day. So with nothing on my Saturday agenda, my mom and I packed a couple chairs, some snacks, and off to the parade we went!

The scene as we waited for the parade to arrive.
  We found a perfect spot to enjoy the parade: a front-row, sidewalk seat, nestled in between food carts and coffee shops.

  Before the parade made its way to our location, we passed the time mostly by people-watching, while fighting off the urge to taste every different aroma coming from the food trucks.

  Here are some highlights from the four-mile long route:18 marching bands from local, and not-so-local, high schools (one band made the trip all the way from sister city, Kaohsiung, Taiwan), 19 equestrian units, and 17 all-floral floats.

Mom and I waiting for the parade.
  The Grand Floral Parade is the second largest all-floral parade in North America, meaning the floats are made entirely with 'organic' materials. Something to wonder at as you notice the detail, texture, and intricacy as each float passes by.

Without a doubt, the Grand Floral Parade was a great way to spend a Saturday.

  The Rose Festival has a long-standing presence in Portland. It survives year in and year out because of volunteerism, and people willing to work to put on a fabulous summertime event, and make Portland a better city to live and visit.

  It's a great tradition I'm proud to be able to say originates from Portland!


More pictures to enjoy!
Most outstanding float from Reser's Fine Foods.
Fleet Week 2012.
Fleet Week from 2012
Mom getting ready for the sun.
Sidewalk fun.
Detailed look at Make a Wish bear.
Hello llama! This little guy came to say hello to me.
Happy Canyon Princesses.
The Oregonian float.
Life Flight float.
Battle Ground Rose Float.
Food cart scene.
2013 Rose Festival Court.
They're so creative! Where there's horses, there's bound to be...
Detail of the alligator float.
Beautiful horses.

Royal Rosarian Foundation Float.
Royal Rosarian Foundation Float.
A nod to the history of the Oregon Trail.
Peace Corps Association.
Dragon dancers.
Chinelos dancers.
The Clydesdale horses.
The Boy Scouts brought the parade to an end.


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