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ani, glitter

He and His Grandma Submitted the Theme for the Rose Festival of 2000

The Rose Festival is celebrating its 100th year in Portland and is the reason we have our nickname as the "City of Roses."

The Rose Festival has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. To this day I still get an excited feeling inside once May comes, because it won't be long until we select a Queen from one of the high schools in the area and the festival will begin.

Then the events start all over the city, the Junior Parades the rides, the Starlight parade and the best of all -- the Grand Floral Parade with all of the floats and bands from around the world. The Navy and Coast Guard will come to town and park big ships at the sea wall. There are car races at the track -- the CART race and the Rose Cup races, dragon boat races and there have even been milk carton races, too. There's so much going on that it would be difficult to attend all of the events. I've never heard of a city putting on this many events in this short amount of time for one festival.

I have very fond memories of the Rose Festival, but I'd like to share my fondest of all. My Grandmother, Gloria Clint, loved the Rose Festival time of year best of all. She always would get her roses ready in the yard, as this was the first sign that it was 'that time of year again.' Then Grandma and I would sit around trying to come up with the perfect theme for the Rose Festival. I'm not sure how many people know that the public come up with the theme each year, but for Grandma and me, we knew -- and we thought we could come up with the perfect one.

So each year we'd sit and throw our ideas out and then select our favorites. We'd always enter about ten. A couple of times a theme would be selected that we'd entered a few years before -- and then we'd think we might need to enter all of the themes that we'd ever come up with. But we both agreed that part of the fun was coming up with new ideas each year! Besides, who knows what the judges are looking for from year to year?

Then in 1999, after about twenty years or so of doing this together, it happened -- our theme won and would be used for the 2000 Rose Festival.

Grandma Gloria and Larry Pisha in 1999
Grandma Gloria and Larry in 1999

Our theme was "Let's Celebrate!" -- one of the most simple themes we'd ever entered! It was one of the best days I ever spent with my Grandma, she was so happy and excited -- and at this point in her life that meant a lot, as Grandma was now in a wheelchair with only one leg and wasn't in the best of health.

She made it to January of 2000 before she died, but never got to see our theme all over the city. She so wanted to see the floats in the Grand Floral Parade decked out in our theme.

It was very cool for me, but also very hard that year without her there to share it. I know she would have loved that Rose Festival the most of all.

Thank you to all who make this time of year so special, and Happy 100th Year Rose Festival!

~Larry Pisha