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ani, glitter

She's Always Loved the Royal Rosarians and is Now the Royal Scribe

In May of 1948 when the Columbia River overflowed its banks, we lost our home and everything in it. The result of this tragedy was our relocation to Northeast Portland, in the Hollywood district. It was here I saw my first parade -- the Junior Rose Parade. I was around three years old. After that, my Mother would take us to see the Grand Floral Parade each year, and I loved it -- the excitement, the anticipation and looking down the street, asking, "Is it coming yet? Can you see it?"

"Yes. Here it comes!"

I remember sitting on the curb watching the parade pass. The bands were so exciting, but the loud bass drums made my heart pound, scaring me a little. Then came those tall, handsome men in the white suits. They wore straw hats -- and wasn't it a bit warm for white gloves? I was around fouryears old when they stopped directly in front of us. As the man in the white suit smiled down at me, I wondered if it snowed where he came from. Was that why he was in white? Was he made of snow? I needed to find out and there was only one way, so I reached out and touched his white pant leg. Then I felt my mother's hand, pulling me back. I can still remember that sensation. I was back on the curb. He smiled at me and was gone...

I attended Rose City Park School (later Fernwood School), graduating from Grant high school in 1965. Through the years we went to the parades and carnivals and participated in Rose Festival. We'd visit the Navy Ships, attend concerts at Washington Park and take part in many other activities. I always loved that special time of year. It was a fun, family time I'll always remember.

But the best part for me was the Grand Floral Parade -- and waiting and watching for the Royal Rosarians. Still in white suits, straw hats and white gloves -- still proud and handsome.

I always admired them -- and I learned they were leaders of the community and the official Greeters of the City for Portland, as well as Ambassadors of Goodwill.

Gayle at the Rose Planting at City Hall
Gayle at the Rose Planting at City Hall

Life went on and I had children and grandchildren of my own. Now I take them to the parades, carnivals and to visit the ships. Through their eyes I still participate in the greatest festival in the world. They love it as I do!

A few years ago I was honored to be Knighted a Royal Rosarian. Now as I march in parades I look for little boys and girls sitting on the curb. I make eye contact with them. When their smiles and waves come back to me, it's as exciting as the first smile given to me by a Rosarian so many years ago...

Gayle at the Rose Planting at Pittock Mansion
Gayle at the Rose Planting at Pittock Mansion

As a Royal Rosarian myself, I am very proud when I say "For you a Rose in Portland Grows." And it does! Happy 100th Rose Festival, Portland -- get out, have fun and make some memories!

Gayle doing her duty as Royal Scribe
Gayle doing her duty as Royal Scribe

~Gayle Whitehurst, Royal Scribe

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