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ani, glitter

The One More Time Around Again Marching Band -- and My First Baton!

I must have been almost five years old when I saw my first Grand Floral Parade. My Great Aunt had rented a room in the Clifford Hotel, and we watched the parade from a window as it passed by on Morrison near Grand Avenue. I stood on a chair and observed the most wonderful sight -- there were rows of baton twirlers in white satin dresses and white boots with tassels. These rows went from the tallest to the very littlest in the very back. I was truly enchanted!

I loved the parade and begged my father for a baton -- and eventually he brought one home. It had a little book with basic twirls, and he learned to do some and then taught me. Then he sent me off to play. After learning all the basic twirls, I was clamoring for more. By age seven I was taking baton lessons and loving it. We had beautiful costumes of white satin with royal blue fringe, little white boots and majorette hats and performing in the Junior Parade was exciting and wonderful.

I went on to become a high school majorette (what there were called then). High school bands would lead their Princess into the Stadium (now PGE park) as part of the Coronation ceremony. And if your high school Princess was chosen Queen, then the school band was immediately elevated to be the 'Queen's Band' -- and had the honor of marching in front of the Court float in the Grand Floral Parade -- it was much coveted. Back then the Grand Floral Parade started at Civic Stadium. We'd march up the ramp and wind through downtown Portland, crossing a bridge to end up at Holiday Park. Getting those floats up the ramp wasn't easy! Tow trucks had to pull some to keep the parade flowing.

Twenty-two years ago, I joined a fledgling all-adult marching band as the one and only majorette. I had some concerns about stamina and talent after so many years but a 'parade horse' never loses that thrill! As a member of the Portland Rose Festival's very own 'One More Time Around Again Marching Band' I've enjoyed band trips to Pasadena, St. Petersburg, Seattle and San Antonio. After visiting other cities and participating in other parades, I must say that I think our Portland Rose Festival is run the best -- and has the cleanest parades, by far.

Little girls still gaze in awe -- and some just want to hold my baton for a minute or two. The magic of parades and baton twirling aren't lost on the little ones. We bring smiles to faces all along the route. I often hear people say, "You go girl" --and yes, we all do! The thrill isn't gone -- the Portland Rose Festival is still magical and exciting! Band members love the parades, the crowds and the cheering. Hard work and many practices have preceded performances in the Festival of Bands (now Concert in the Park), though it's disappointing to see the declining audiences. (Even the Rose Festival Princesses stopped attending some years back.)

I'm saddened by way the Rose Festival is perceived by many in the metro area. It seems like the first thing that comes to their minds is the Waterfront Park, a place to be avoided at all costs. In days gone by the primary focus of the Festival were the parades and the coronation. May the Centennial year look back and pick the 'best of the best' to bring freshness to our Festival -- and increase community involvement and support.

~Patti Waitman-Ingebretsen