Though when I look back I now realize it wasn't the safest place to be, what I liked about sitting up on top of a ladder was my amazing view of the parade! I was taller than everyone around me and I had my own viewing box, high in the sky. I thought I was so special and important being up there! Mom was always on the ladder a couple steps up from the ground, with Dad standing next to the ladder. He was 6'4", so he could see over all the heads!
For me, what made Rose Festival parades special wasn't so much watching the parade as seeing the parade watching my dad. At that time he was a celebrity in my eyes, working as a Portland Public School teacher. What I didn't know was how special he was to so many of the parade participants. Over and over, year after year, I can remember people on floats or marching in bands waving at my dad and calling "Hi Mr. Light!"
Yes, I thought I was a pretty special little girl sitting high on my ladder throne, but I was really a special girl who got to watch the people who waved at my dad -- the man who stood by the rickety ladder year after year.
Did he inspire his students so much that they sought him out each year among the parade spectators? How does someone end up that special to students? Well, I found out! Now I, too, am a Portland Public School teacher. Memories of Dad are inspiring and made attending the Grand Floral Parade a memorable time.
~LeAnn Light Kinnee (Sherwood, Oregon)