May 24th, 2007

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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She Was Junior Queen in 1947 & Later Worked for the Portland Rose Festival Association for 15 Years

One day in April back when I was a third-grader at Glencoe Elementary school, the teachers and staff started lining up third and fourth grade girls and boys to measure our height. If we were within the 'correct height' (and most were), we were sent to the auditorium where we walked across the stage and gave our names in front of a group of teachers and staff. They were judges -- but I didn't know that! I did this several times, and at the conclusion two of us -- Bruce Stinnett and I -- were selected. That done, we were sent back to class.

I went home from school that day and told my mother I'd been selected for something involving the Rose Festival, but I wasn't sure what. I told her she'd be getting a letter explaining it all, then hurried off to a piano lesson.

And that's how at eight years old I began my path to become the 1947 Junior Queen!

The letter I'd mentioned arrived on April 18 and outlined the rehearsal and selection program that would be held at the Bagdad Theatre for the Junior Prince and Princesses from District #7. (At the time Portland schools were divided into ten districts, with one girl and boy competing from each.)

At this selection we all gave a little speech, which were memorized nursery rhymes that we'd drawn from a hat -- mine was "Humpty Dumpty." After these speeches the judges came backstage where we waited. I was tapped on the head, as was Bruce. The curtains opened and they announced that we were now Prince and Princess, from Glencoe. Then off we went to The Oregonian to have our photos taken.

From that moment life seemed much like a fairy tale! We met the other 18 members of the Junior Court and attended rehearsals, outings, photograph sessions, dress fittings and more rehearsals!

Finally, on May 22, another selection process took place before a packed audience at the Civic Auditorium. The fire department even ordered the doors closed half an hour before the program began to prevent overcrowding. Loud speakers were mounted outside for those who didn't make it inside! It was an unforgettable hour of pageantry, speeches and suspense.

When the winners were announced backstage, I have a memorable photo of me in shocked surprise -- with my eyes closed and the hem of my dress in my hands covering my mouth!

Queen Sharon

For the next few weeks life was a whirl! There were luncheons, speeches, Rose Shows, attending the Senior Court Queen Selection (at Civic Stadium), appearing in parades and much more.

Bruce and I were always together as Junior Queen and Prime Minister. It was a very special time for an eight-year-old and gave me memories to last a lifetime.

Times were simpler in those days. Our parents were responsible for getting us to each event, so all the court parents had the opportunity to share in the fun! My dear mother was six months pregnant and would wear a heavy coat even on hot days as she was shy and a just a little embarrassed by her "condition." (How times change!)

It was a magical and happy time in an era where children were simply children and able to enjoy such a grand experience. We all had lots of fun! I still have my photos and memories, Princess and Queen's gown -- and even my crown -- to bring back that bit of magic.

Sharon, years later, working for the PRFA
Sharon, years later, working for the PRFA

How could I have known when I was eight-year-old Queen Sharon II that I would later join the staff at the Portland Rose Festival Association in 1970, and spend 15 years helping guide the festival through years of great growth?

For me, "For You a Rose in Portland Grows" will always have deep memories and meaning.

Sharon today
Sharon today

I'd like to offer my very special thanks to the Portland Rose Festival Association for making it all possible!

~Sharon (Barnes) Tracy (1947 Junior Queen, Sharon II)
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Her Float Won First Prize in the 1961 Junior Parade

I appeared in the Junior Parade back in 1961. The theme that year was "Great Cities of the World," so we chose Paris.

There were four of us -- my brother, two neighbor boys and me.

Their dad and our dad built a float out of a baby buggy frame, some wheels and cardboard. We had a mini rose garden in our backyard, so we picked roses and put them on the float.

Paris float

Dad built an Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower and then added those to our float. I was a Cancan girl, my brother was a French artist, Hal was a French chef and Roy was a Musketeer.

Paris float

We won first prize!

~Jeannie Sommer
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She Began Her Wedding Day by Attending the Grand Floral Parade

Because of superstition, some brides will refuse to let their grooms see them just before the wedding ceremony -- but I was forced to make an exception. Frank and I were getting married Saturday evening, but there was no way I'd let him miss his first experience with the tradition I loved as a long-time Portlander -- sitting curbside at the Grand Floral Parade! In fact, I wanted all my close friends -- some who had traveled all the way from New York City -- to experience the parade.

Very early on Saturday morning I dragged a bunch of reluctant and hung-over bridesmaids, friends, family members and the groom to claim a spot on the parade route.

It was a picture-perfect morning -- a model day to impress my out-of-state friends. Drum cadences and marching band tunes mingled with the cheerful voices of the crowd. Through the cool morning air the sun appeared and shone brightly, sharpening the vivid colors and textures of the floats. Colorful floats including a magnificent Pegasus and Chinese dragon competed for our attention. In the midst of it all someone snapped a photo that captured the heart of the event. We were sleepy, but spirited -- contact lenses had been abandoned for glasses and attendees wore a jumble of shorts, sweatshirts and sunglasses. Everyone was smiling, relaxed and carefree.

It was the perfect moment of casual, effortless fun before the formal, life-changing event to come!

My excursion earned me a sunburn -- my shiny pink nose featured prominently in my wedding pictures. But it was worth it to share the experience with the people I loved.

Alaina and Frank

The Grand Floral Parade was forever bonded to that special day. Now on most anniversaries my husband and I spend the Grand Floral Saturday downtown, relishing the sights and sounds -- while I enjoy the fact that Portland's big day is mine, too!

~Alaina Smith