Saturday, June 16, 2012

Grand Floral Parade - June 2012

The weekend of June 9, I made my way back into Portland to check out the Rose Festival.  This is an annual event that, if you go to the website, has many different components.  I initially had big plans to check out as much of it as possible, so I signed up for the Grand Floral Walk and headed down to the Riverfront early to get my participant number and a goodie bag (you got a T-shirt, a bag, and a pin, and there were vendors giving away other assorted goodies -- I picked up a balloon and a yo-yo for entertainment purposes along the way), and then headed to the start line.

The walkers have gathered

We started at in the Rose Quarter, and walked through the Rose Center Arena.  Of course, that meant that we had to give up our balloons, due to ventilation concerns, before we got started, but they gave them back on the other side.  Still, it was a very interesting entrance -- I knew that we were going to be walking along the parade route, but I didn't realize that the route would already be populated with people waiting for the actual parade!

Fortunately, the parade announcers and the parade-watchers were very supportive, and clapped and waved for us as we walked along the route.  Some people who had obviously done this before had bags full of candy to throw out to the children in the audience, and there were a few local celebrities (like mascots for the Trailblazers and Ducks, local politicians, and even a couple of the players from the Trailblazers) to make it interesting for the people in the audience.

The walk itself was four miles, and was done at an extremely liesurely pace.  When we reached the end, they gave us some water and some snacks -- and great seats for viewing the parade at the end of the route!

The Grand Floral Parade is in its 100th year this year, and the theme was Rock and Roses.  As you can imagine, that meant a lot of the floats were based on floral arrangements and/or were influenced by 50s rockabilly themes.  

The Spirit Mountain Casino float was first, since they were the largest sponsor.

There were a lot of smaller vehicles decked out in floral arrangments

Some Mrs. Rodeo winners from the area

The Rose Parade Queen

This one is for my sister-in-law, who teaches twirling to the younger generations.  Show them this to show that they'll be using their skills forever!
4-time Iditarod champion Martin Buser...

...and his sled dog team

Alaska Airlines float, sponsor of the sled dog teams, as well.

I could not imagine riding that little bike the whole 4 miles of the parade route.

The first double-decker bus in the city

I always liked the look of the Union Pacific trains, even the mini versions.

Packy was the Grand Marshall, but wasn't able to attend in person due to health concerns

Packy was an elepahant born in the Oregon Zoo

Even the Red Baron attended

As you can imagine, the Royal Rosarians had a very rose-centric float.

There were representatives from all of Portland's sister cities across the world

Some of the sister cities even sent their own representatives
One sister city sent their high school marching band.
I didn't even think that they'd have different instruments in their band.

The parade itself took two hours.  By that time, I was fairly exhausted, but I still wanted to check out the rest of the goings on.  There were two things by the water that I wanted to see.  Part of the Rose Festival  was Fleet Week, which brings a few large boats from the Coast Guard, US Navy, and Royal Canadian Fleet up the river, and allows you to get a free tour of the boats.  The other was Dragon Boat Races, which sounded like fun, but would have been coming to an end by the time I got there, so I didn't even try.

I did make it down to the river to see the Fleet Week boats.  However, the lines were fairly long, and I was really starting to feel like I needed to go home, so I elected not to take the tours.  Incidentally, I did hear a bunch of people talking about the boats, and it isn't as popular with the locals as I would have thought.  Apparently, the large boats coming inland really affects traffic, since the Willamette has several drawbridges that made crossing the river difficult.  Likewise, additional security and crowds in the area made it difficult to get around.  It wasn't bad for me, but I definitely heard my fair share of grumbling from the locals.

All in all, it was an enjoyable day, and I got a decent amount of exercise.  The weather really cooperated, with the sun poking out, but the temperature staying cool enough that I didn't overheat during the walk.  I am really looking forward to the summer now, to see what other interesting events like this I may be able to find.

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