To this day I still get asked if I'm saving places along the route for the Grand Floral Parade...
It all started as a family outing when my boys were very young. Jeff was six years old and Doug was an infant.
They're currently 31 and 26 and both are servicemen. Jeffrey was in the Middle East when it all started, but is now home and out of the Marines. Doug is currently serving in Iraq with the Army, but previously spent four years in the Marines before re-enlisting in the Army.
It started as a family tradition and grew into an annual event for many of my friends and co-workers. Our largest group sitting on MLK boulevard in front of Burgerville was 140 people strong. I've spent up to a week on the street 24/7 in order to save a taped off area for friends and family.
I've been on the front page of The Oregonian and have had several interviews over the years on both radio and television.
Many of my friends would come during the day and spend lunch and dinner with me as I sat and saved space for their families. I required that they each bring a chair to save space -- this was in an attempt to justify the amount of space I'd saved
Doing this spanned 18 years. My kids still came into their late teens with their friends to sit out all night playing cards on the parade route with people we'd met and seen over the years.
A reporter once asked me, "Why do you do this for everyone?" I answered that I was the one with the best Mental Health coverage.
My kids don't know this isn't normal. Some people choose camping in the woods as a vacation, but we choose to spend it in support of the Rose Festival, and are avid parade goers.
There's a real art to preparing for a one week street outing! We had many 'street friends,' all of whom returned to the same spots on the route year after year. We've developed bonds that have provided many wonderful lifetime memories.
I would keep a list of names and phone numbers so I could contact families in May and confirm arrangements to share watching over of our spaces.
Yes, I took vacation time from work to do this. I once heard a reporter say, "It must be nice to have nothing else to do," during an interview with me. But I bet he didn't have a clue just how busy my life was. I worked a full time job, ran a farm with livestock and raised two boys on my own. That included attending all their games, band events, football practices, parent conferences and many other parental duties. I simply chose to spend quality time with my boys, my friends and 'The City of Roses' at the Grand Floral Parade!
We met many people from all over the world who would walk by and ask what we were doing with chairs sitting on the street. Try to imagine the looks on their faces when they found out we were waiting for a parade -- a parade that was five days away! Yes, we got lots of laughs, but many, many folks sat down with us and spent time visiting. Some even returned later to have lunch or dinner and talk well into the night. One couple was from Japan. He was a float designer for Japan who was here to view our parade floats. He and his wife knew no English and I knew no Japanese, but we had a wonderful time trying to talk and working our way through a conversation filled with puzzeled looks and much laughter. We managed to figure out what was being said with gestures, signs and laughter. They attended the the Battle of the Bands [Festival of Bands] on Friday night and had a very good time and then the next morning they joined us on the parade route. They left Portland with many good memories and I'm sure they took away a reflection of the true spirit of our city from a basic experience of camping on the street.
Later they mailed me a VHS tape of the Battle of the Bands [Festival of Bands] night as a 'thank you.'
My kids are grown so I no longer sit out on the route. It was time to turn my spot over to another family to build their own memories. But I do see disappointment on the faces of some friends who ask me if I still save spots.
Somewhere I read a line that I like to live by. I don't know who the author is, but it sums it up for me, allowing me to live 'outside the box' -- and that includes camping on the street with family and friends and enjoying simple times and rich memories: "Most of us die with our music inside us."
Thank you for this opportunity to tell my story. ~Cyndi Lindquist