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ani, glitter

The Junior Parade in the 1950's and 60's

I live in New York City now, but I grew up in NE Portland on 54th Street, between Broadway and Hancock -- and my greatest memory of the Rose Festival is of the Junior Parade in the late 1950's and '60's.

In those days there was a Junior Court and I tried out for Junior Prince from my grade school (St. Rose) -- but the nun in charge said I made too many faces, so I was eliminated! I do recall going to a Junior Court event in a dance studio over what is now Trader Joe's in the Hollywood district. (It might have been the Junior Queen Coronation -- or maybe the selction of the prince and princess from that part of Portland. But I recall the Junior Court all marching in two by two!)

The day of the Junior Parade was always a very big event on NE 54th. Even if schools wasn't officially closed for the summer, they were all closed for parade day!

The streets in our neighborhood were blocked off from Broadway north to Sacramento as the bands, twirling groups and other assorted marchers lined up in formation in front of our house and on the surrounding blocks. One year it was so warm we took our garden hose out to the curb for the thirsty kids to drink from as they waited to march up 54th Street.

One exciting year the Junior Court raced up Broadway in their white Pontiacs on their way to the parade, escorted by Multnomah County Sheriff officers on their green motorcycles!

I also particapted in the parade several times, usually decorating my bike with crepe paper and whatever flowers we could find. Once when the theme was "Famous Firsts," my grandfather built a platform to fit over our red wagon so that I could pull one of my younger brothers (Peter) in the parade. He was dressed up as a Chinese Emperor -- courtesy of my mother's sewing machine! I called him "First Chinese King," but I'm not sure where the inspiration for that came from! We put chicken wire around the platform and decorated our float with red roses gleaned from plants growing up neigborhood telephone poles, along with peonies from my mother's garden and roses from neighbor's gardens. Back in those days many people in Portland had their parking strips planted with rose bushes, and had climbing red roses on their telephone poles.

We won some sort prize that year, which allowed us to pick out a gift from Vic's Hobby Shop in the Hollywood district. We marched all the way down to the end of the parade to the Grant Bowl where we got Dixie cups (vanilla and orange ice cream) and something to drink. This was all a lot of fun -- up until that long walk home from Grant High School back to 54th Street! (I think I have a picture of a forlorn looking Peter sitting on his "throne" somewhere...)

In later years I became part of a gang that got up at the crack of dawn to stake out our position for viewing the Grand Floral Parade. We were there by 6:00 a.m. on parade day and knew every place for blocks around that let you use their bathrooms! Our preferred location was on SW Salmon, between 6th Avenue and Broadway, on the south side of the Hilton Hotel -- across from a tall parking deck.

My mother also grew up in NE Portland and partcipated in early Junior Rose Parades back in the 30's.

Such great memories!

~Dan Garrow