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ani, glitter

A Fixture in Our Lives -- The Rose Festival


That's the phrase I remember shouting as my sister and I awaited the beautiful, fun and exciting Grand Floral Parade! Before I was even six years old, my parents (both adamant parade supporters) would take us downtown where my grandparents lived and worked -- to camp out on the sidewalk outside the apartment and business building to await the parade.

My grandfather would go down early in the morning and save a space for all our family to watch the parade. Sometimes boards, cones, or sawhorses would be used. Whatever he used, it worked -- and we always had a space just for us! We'd go up to our grandparents apartment and have something to eat or drink to keep us happy during the long parade to come. Then -- just before ten o'clock -- my Nan, (we called her Nan, instead of Nana) or Papa, would take us down to sit on handmade stools my Papa had made for us. (I still have one of those stools to this day!)

The Parade couldn't come fast enough! But, when we heard the roar of the Police motorcycles, we knew the delight was about to begin! Hundreds of band members going by, beautiful floats (decorated with all kinds of fragrant flowers), clowns, horses, and so much more. It was a kid's delight!

(But those Cavemen from Southern Oregon were always there in the parade to scare us to death. They were great ambassadors of their community. But, as both my sister and I remember, SCARY, too!)

My sister Nancy and I would especially be anxious to see the Queen of Rosaria and all the Princesses. As the years would go by, we both took great interest in the selecting of the Queen and the pageantry that went along with the Coronation.

Year after year we were there in front of the Davis Building watching that parade!

When our grandparents moved to other locations downtown, we'd still go early and get a spot to watch our favorite parade. When my sister and I were older, my father would take us down to watch the parade while my mother worked. She missed many parades, but attended many again after her retirement.

My mother, Lorraine (Hobbs) Hagoes, was nearly chosen as Lincoln High School's representative to the Court of Rosaria! She was first runner-up, which meant that she was named May Fete Queen in 1939. We -- her children -- began to appreciate the old photos as we grew up. We loved looking at pictures of her on her throne with an escort, tiara, beautiful dress and flowers. She was a lovely queen that spring. Maybe that's why she loved the Rose Festival so much. I believe she started a legacy of tradition with her family that continues to this day!

As I grew up, married and had children, our quest for the greatest spot to watch the parade moved to Martin Luther King boulevard and a spot in front of Lyon's Restaurant. It was perfect! We'd arrive around 6:00 a.m., go in and have breakfast, and fill up on pancakes and other goodies to keep us full during the long wait.

Weather was usually good -- as I remember -- so that made it pleasant to wait. But one year -- while pregnant with my first child -- the sky opened up and poured. We wore garbage bags to keep us dry! But, the spirit was always there. I can still hear my father say, "Don't worry, it's just a shower!" And the parade always came on time, right at 10:00! Rain and other concerns melted away with the excitement we felt...

Today, I don't attend the parade as often as I used to. But my sister attends many of the events each year. We enjoy the Float Display -- and hearing which high school the new Queen is from! The Rose Festival has always been a fixture in our lives -- and probably will be for the rest of our lives. It's a constant -- an event to look forward to each June! Schedules are set by the Parade date. No one really cares about the weather. We would be there, no matter what! No doubt my five grandchildren will make their own memories each year...

What a history we have in our festival! 100 years. How quickly they have gone by!

Happy Birthday to Portland's Rose Festival!

~Carolyn (Hagoes) Wilson (of NE Portland)