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ani, glitter

Watching the Grand Floral Parade on the Burnside Bridge with our Extended Family

My family and I have lived in Portland almost all our lives, so attending the Rose Festival Grand Floral Parade is one of our BIG traditions. I actually played the drums in for Parkrose High School's appearance in the parade back in 1977.

After getting married, my wife Nancy and I started attending the parade every year -- sitting in the exact same spot. For 18 straight years we've sat in the same spot on Burnside bridge.

Every year I save our spot, because we invite many friends and family to join us. We typically have 25-30 people in our party. When my girls were around six years old, our tradition was to sleep overnight in the back of our van, a couple blocks east off Burnside. Then we'd arise at 5:00 a.m. and go sit in our spot, complete with a number of chairs marked off for the others who would be joining us later.

One year, two of my teen girls and I slept ON the bridge in our actual spot -- but that was a bad idea, since every time a truck crossed it woke us up! And we were also were bothered by several transients lifting our covers to see who was there! So sleeping overnight by the bridge became part of the tradition and fun and the girls would look forward to it for months prior to Rose Fesitval!

Over the years we became friends with several of the other spectators on the bridge, who also marked their same spot each year. We became much like a family, reconnecting once each year.

By the way, we've been TRUE Portlanders who aren't scared off by the rain, wind, or cold! One year while we were away from our spot getting breakfast, strong winds and rain pummeled our canopy -- and it started to fly up over Burnside Bridge and on to I-5 below! When we returned, several others close to our spot related how they'd raced for our canopy and grabbed it just as it was ready to fall on to I-5! Once again, it was just like a family, with everyone looking out for each other -- and participating in this rich Portland tradition together!

My family (Nancy, Amy, Manda and Annie) and I are happy to do anything to promote Portland and this wonderful Rose Festival tradition! Absolutely. By the way, we don't let the current bridge construction 'rain on our parade' (HA!) -- we still watch from nearby.

~Rick Ralston