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ani, glitter

A Tradition of Grand Floral Parade Float Riders

Back in 1935, Margaret DeJardin from Gervais, Oregon was a young office worker at Hirsch-Weiss (later to become White Stag). The company had come out with a new ski outfit and wanted to showcase it -- so they sponsored a float in the Grand Floral Parade and selected Marnie (Margaret) to ride on the float and model the new outfit.

She was the toast of the company and her family, to be sure!

23 years later in 1958, her daughter, Catherine Manion, was a co-ed at the University of Portland. Cathy was also a lovely girl -- and the Home Coming Queen on the Bluff that year. That same year U of P accepted the challenge of entering a float in a special category in that year's Grand Floral Parade.

The main attraction of the float was to be their beautiful Home Coming Queen, Cathy Manion. The theme celebrated the recent addition of women and ROTC to the student body.

I was one of many students who spent long nights and countless hours building and decorating that float. When the 'big day' arrived, we realized the driver placement didn't allow adequate visibility to steer the potentially treacherous parade route!

So we poked a hole in the front of the float and I "clung to the rigging" - directing the driver when to turn and maintain the speed to keep up the pace from inside the structure. I was also charged with keeping Cathy supplied with water and ice cream, as it was a very hot ride on a very sunny day!

I won't try to tell you it was love at first sight there at the parade, but at the end of our college careers Cathy and I were married -- and have been for 46 years!

At least three of our four children have worked decorating floats in subsequent parades, though we've never had another float rider.

The upcoming generation of our grandchildren is all boys, so maybe the run started by my mother-in-law Marnie has run its course! Needless to say, we have a long standing connection with the parade -- and many fond memories.

~Gene Comfort