The life, energy, and spirit of the Junior Rose Parade will be in full swing next Wednesday, with thousands of spectators and participants flooding the streets of the Hollywood District as the parade enters its 90th year. The National Association of Festivals regards the Junior Rose Parade as both the oldest and largest children's parade in the world.
Starting at 1pm on Wednesday, June 8th, over 30 bands from elementary and middle schools across the Portland/Vancouver metro area will sound the street of Sandy Boulevard, from NE 50th to Cesar Chavez Boulevard, playing classics like "Louie, Louie," a quintessential beat of Rose Festival celebrations. Children's dance teams, sports teams, school groups, scout troops, unicyclists, and many more will add to the excitement and fun down the main drag of the Hollywood District. Decorated bikes, horses, wagons, and dogs are sure to make an appearance as well at this beloved event for children and adults alike.
Alert to all kids: free candy is often thrown out to spectators, so be ready.
There is some interesting history behind the Junior Rose Parade. It was not until nearly 30 years after the Grand Floral Parade (originally known simply as the Rose Festival) was established that the Junior Rose Parade became an official event of its own. The very first Rose Festival parades, which began in 1907, consisted of over 2,000 children marching in the parade and represented 23 schools, according to The Oregon Encyclopedia. A few years before, starting in 1904, a floral parade had become an annual tradition consisting mostly of rose covered carriages, and this event would soon be combined with the newly established Rose Festival parade.
In June of 1907 after the success of the first official Rose Festival, 10 Portland businessmen came together to establish the Portland Rose Festival organization, selling 1000 shares at $10 each to finance the nonprofit today known as the Rose Festival Foundation.
That same year, a children's parade was organized on the east side of the river and in 1908 became known as the Eastside Street Carnival of Masqueraders and Children's Parade in the Hollywood District. However, it was not until 1936 that this annual children's celebration became officially designated as the Junior Rose Parade, and emerged as an official Rose Festival event. The parade has taken place on Sandy Boulevard ever since, and now attracts nearly 10,000 children who participate in the festivities.
To honor its long lived history and continued success, the parade will include actors and actresses playing the roles of a few celebrity Oregonians. Some of these special Oregonians may be well over 100, but their spirit is still alive and their doubles are looking remarkably well. Among these special guests will be Ms. Georgiana Pittock the official founder of the Rose Society and wife of past Oregonian publisher Henry Pittock. Ms. Pittock first held a rose show under a tent as a benefit for her church back in 1888. This is seen by many as the first unofficial Rose Festival event and carries on today as the Rose Show now held in the Lloyd Center Mall.
Along with Ms. Pittock, spectators will see Harry Lane, the mayor of Portland from 1905-1909. During his first year as mayor, Lane addressed a crowd at the 1905 Lewis and Clark Exposition stating that the city of Portland should celebrate an annual "festival of roses." Two years later the parade was up and running and today the festival consists of dozens of events all over the city spanning nearly two months.
And for all the young princesses (and princes) out there hoping to see the Rose Festival Court, they will not be in this parade. However, they are known to make an appearance, sitting in their royal bleachers somewhere along Sandy Boulevard, so keep your eyes open - they would love to say hello to any and all fellow princesses.
This year's parade, sponsored by Fred Meyer, will feature Scooby Doo as its Grand Marshall, the loyal canine crime fighter of Mystery Bus crew . The Fred Meyer bear will also make an appearance as he cuts the ribbon to commence the parade.
Anyone who has been to this annual celebration knows that spots fill up fast. And recently, city officials have ruled that it is no longer legal for parade-goers to reserve their spots with duct tape, chairs, etc. in advance, so be sure to get there early to snag a space.
For more information or if you would like to volunteer, please visit www.rosefestival.org.