After residing in the Puyallup/Sumner area for nearly 30 years, I'm ashamed to say I'd never marched in the Daffodil Parade... that is, until today. As part of the Sumner Downtown Association (SDA), I not only had the priviledge, but definitely felt pride as I shared in carrying the banner for the Sumner Community Float sponsored by SDA.
We arrived downtown Tacoma by 8:15 a.m. The air was crisp and there was a cool breeze driving its way up Pacific Avenue. Dressed in rolled up jeans and light summer plaid tops, Barbara Ford and I certainly could have used a jacket in those first two hours. However, the sun was shining and there was an energy all around that was uplifting and filled with excitement.
Ben DeGoede and his team did an amazing job on the float. Folks walking by continually commented on the design, flowers and overall theme. On the left was a small version of a field filled with rhubarb plants. Separated by a fence, a lovely daffodil field filled the right. Toward the back of the float was a small barn with a farmer (Raggy Andy with a straw hat and dressed in overalls) riding a tractor as it pulled out of the barn. Overhead was a small bail of yellow hay. On the back of the float, and with the help of some dried ice, a large scale rhubarb pie seemed to be steaming with the illusion it was fresh from the oven.
Next followed a tractor ridden by Jon Swanson who was pulling our big sandwich board announcing Rhubarb Season in Sumner and promoting both Rhubarb Days as well as the Sumner Art and Rhubarb Festival. Trailing behind it was a rag-tag group known as the Rhubarbarians, and their tribe of ladies (Stalkers) and children (Sproutes).
Just behind and to the left the Sumner Community Float was the Daffodil Court Float. Wanting to pay my respects to the beautiful young lady taken from us far too soon, I stood in front of the seat reserved for Alexandria Cole, just gazing at the photograph there in the place where she should have been. Next to her photograph was a beautifully hand-beaded crown, made by one of the ladies of the tribe. This tribute not only brought me to tears, as the float made it's way by where we stood, but to many along the parade route.
Finally after nearly three hours, the time for entry #67 to join the parade was upon us. As we inched up to the starting point, we received the exciting news that the SDA Sumner Community Float was being awarded not only the Floral Award, but the Presidents Award as well. Such a wonderful honor added to what was becoming a truly fun experience.
As we made our way along the Tacoma route, I took note that not many spectators were there to greet us. I was told, however, that attendance this year was a better showing than last.
After the first parade (about 12:30 p.m.), we made our way back to the escort's vehicle and headed to Puyallup. Apparently, just after we left Tacoma a float accidentally ran into a bus causing a bit of a hold up for the parade entrants. So, no matter the entry number, if you were there, you progressed in line in the place of another. So, thankfully for us there was not much of a wait before we headed through the streets of Puyallup.
Puyallup was amazing. Talk about supporting the Daffodil Festival and all those participating - they were lined up 6-8 deep in many sections and showed a true appreciation for those putting on this annual show of music, floats, cars and the like. It seemed like we'd just begun this portion of the parade and it too was over.
Next came Sumner at 2:30 p.m. This was the parade section I'd been waiting for the most, as it was my first time representing the small community I've come to call home. There was such a pride as I carried the President's Award banner announcing we'd won this trophy. Following close behind, two of the Rhubarbarian Sprouts carried the banner announcing our other trophy, the Floral Award. The crowds cheered as we walked by and I never felt more proud to be a part of Sumner. Between Puyallup and Sumner, I'm not sure which community showed the most support - equally matched perhaps. Once again, I felt like the Sumner Parade should keep going on and on, but it too ended sooner than I expected.
Finally, we met up once more with our escort and made our way to Orting. With a nice hour rest time before the next parade began, the Eagles Club served up hotdogs and beverages to those marching in the parade. Eventually, we again lined up in front of our float for the final phase of the parade to begin. Just after 5:45 p.m. we began our march along down the street of Orting. I could see Orting was equally invested in their support of the Daffodil Parade. When you consider the size of Orting and the number of residents residing there, I think the entire community was there showing their support as well.
As the parade drew to an end, I can say my experience far exceeded my expectation. Would I consider marching again next year? Absolutely. Only this time, I hope to help with the preparation of the float so that I can truly feel entirely vested in the festival.
Thanks to the citizens of Tacoma, Puyallup, Sumner, Bonney Lake and Orting for giving me the experience of a lifetime. For Alexandria Cole, I know she was watching from above, saw the love we have for her and how much we missed her presence today. We look forward to having you all with us again next year.