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ani, glitter

They View the Grand Floral Parade Every Year and the Moms Hold Down the Fort

Twenty years ago our new neighbors in West Linn -- Sally and Eric Egland -- asked if we wanted to join them at the Grand Floral Parade. They'd both grown up in Portland, but we'd just moved here from Chicago a few years previously and had never gone to the parade.

They assured us they had a great place to sit that was close to bathrooms for our kids, so several moms in our neighborhood packed our lawn chairs into the back of Sally's van and set out about 9:00 a.m. to wait for the parade.

Thus started a tradition that's still going strong today! Our neighborhood group sets our lawn chairs in the same spot where we started twenty years ago, although not without a certain amount of difficulty these days...

Since our kids ranged from four to 10 years old when we began this tradition, the dads brought them along just before the parade started, while the moms went early to hold the fort. The first year we had about eight families from the neighborhood, so we made big signs that read 'Skyline Ridge, West Linn' as well as our now famous signs of 'nice horse,' 'pretty costume' and many others that we still hold up as the parade goes by. We've been told that regulars look for our signs near the end of the parade route where we sit.

Peggy and friends at the GFP

As the kids began to play Saturday sports over the years, the dads took the kids to play and then brought them to the parade. Since that involved saving about ten chairs plus the curb area, some late comers weren't please to see the gang of dads and kids waltz up just before parade time to take their prime spots -- but we moms had been holding the space for at least five hours, fortified by lots of hot coffee, good talk and donuts, while latecomers were still in bed. So we truly earned that spot!

Through grade school street chalk drawings, middle school feigned embarrassment, dozing on the curb the day after staying up all night for high school graduation parties, coming home from college for the parade, and introducing the serious boyfriend/girlfriend to our annual festival group, our kids have seldom missed a parade. It's a favorite tradition, even when it occasionaly rains.

We used to haul coolers of nutritious lunches when the kids were small -- now we ask the dads to bring Subway or KFC for all. We used to stand watch to help the dads find us, now we use cell phones. Our kids used to sit on the curb, now we give the saved curb space to a family with small children -- while our kids sit in comfort in lawn chairs.

Our daughters had eyes only for the pretty horses when we first started going to the parade. Then it was the pretty rodeo queen costumes. Now they won't admit that their most interested gazes are for the Marines marching by -- but moms know better!

Peggy and friends at the GFP

We hope to still be coming to the parade when grandchildren start to appear. We'll still have our signs, our hats and mittens and sunscreen. The viewing area is getting more crowded and some people more hostile about 'saving spaces.' But you'll still find us there, cheering on the bands and kids and rodeo queens -- happy that kind neighbors have given our children the memories of a lifetime at the Rose Festival's Grand Floral Parade!

~Peggy Keonjian

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