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Go Behind the Scenes at the Festival!

The Portland Rose Festival is the Official Festival of the City of Portland (Oregon), named the Best Festival in the World in 2011 by the International Festivals & Events Association. Rose Festival is famous for fantastic parades, a riverside event called CityFair and many other award-winning events and programs. Insiders offer their personal accounts of festival-related happenings . . .

I Know I Can!

-Jeff Curtis, Chief Executive Officer

When I first stepped on that treadmill last fall, I was like the Little Engine that Could, with "I think I can, I think I can" echoing in my head. I've done a lot of things in my life, and I've been pretty athletic. But I've never been a runner. And somehow I had promised that I would run the first-ever Rock 'n' Roll Portland Half Marathon, and I hadn't just promised my family or the staff at the Rose Festival . . . I had said it to a blogger at The Oregonian!

First I had to get through the 2011 Rose Festival, one that as usual was very busy, but even moreso because of my role with the revamped CityFair Committee, helping plan an event that had basically been transformed from top to bottom. As usual I need a little time to rewind and re-connect with my family afterward, and then it was back to work, starting the planning for another season. Time flew by, and I hadn't started any training (which people seemed to love to remind me).

Getting more and more confident!

Finally my close colleague and friend, Chief Operating Officer Marilyn Clint, took me aside and said she had a plan. She emailed me a detailed schedule for getting on the treadmill. She wouldn't even let me think about running outside until I had logged enough hours moving in one place.

It was boring, and it was a little maddening, but it worked. My wind and my legs started to develop, and I was ready to really get moving!

The Rose Festival teamed up with a new health and fitness social media site called HubbubHealth.Com, and I was assigned a couple of coaches, one to design a running plan and one to work on my overall fitness. I decided my journey to run could serve as an example to other guys like me--busy men with young families and demanding jobs who may have come to believe they didn't have the time or the energy to tackle a long run. If I could do it, so could they!

It didn't go perfectly. I loved actually hitting the streets outside, but I had a little problem with my foot when I was on a run in Pasadena over New Year's. I ended up having to get a more appropriate pair of shoes, and the great folks at Fit Right NW got me squared away.

Me, a health and fitness spokesperson!!

You know what? I can now run ten miles at a time. I've already run in two organized events; I did the 8k in the Shamrock Run and the 10k in the Race for the Roses a couple weeks ago. And just five weeks from now, I'll do a little more than 13 miles! I'm already imagining what May 20 will be like, when I'm one of 15,000 runners to participate in the first ever Rock 'n' Roll running event in Portland!

Y'know what? I can't wait. Do I have any doubts left about completing the course? Absolutely not.

I know I can!

If you'd like to support the Rose Festival by donating to my fund raising page, I'd sure appreciate it. I work for the Best Festival in the World, and I want every mile I log on May 20 to make a difference! Thank you!

An Inspiration at Any Age!

-Marilyn Clint, PRFF Chief Operating Officer

I get to meet and work with the most wonderful people at the Rose Festival. For 15 years I've been privileged to know Gil Frey, one of the recipients of the 2011 Spirit of Portland Awards. Gil is one of the passionate volunteers who has worked to save the Memorial Coliseum, which last year was christened the Veterans Memorial Coliseum, due in great part to his efforts.

On Sunday sister Charlie and I were fortunate enough to be among the many guests celebrating Gil's 80th birthday, as well as his 60th wedding anniversary with wife, Joyce.

Gil's party

Gil has gained the respect of the folks on the City Council for his tenacious lobbying for the Coliseum, which has never been mean-spirited or self-serving. There aren't too many weeks that go by without a call from Gil to keep me updated on his efforts. He knows how important it is to the Rose Festival that our signature event, the Spirit Mountain Casino Grand Floral Parade, continues to make its way through the indoor arena (described here), as it has since 1961!

Gil and me

Back in 2002, after the horrible events of 9/11, Gil worked with me to provide a very special memorial moment inside the arena prior to the start of the parade. That was the year Oregon's Katie Harmon was Miss America, and she sang the National Anthem as veterans representing all the branches of service stood in salute. I'll never forget the resonating voice of Rose Festival President Eldon Tichenor as he asked all the veterans in the audience to stand, and the way it felt to watch nearly a third of the thousands of parade guests get out of their seats!

Happy Birthday, Gil. Thank you for your years of tireless efforts on behalf of Portland and your veteran brothers and sisters!

Reaching New Heights

-Laura Mears, Waterfront Activities Assistant

"You better get over here, they're going to do it." It was Charlie's voice on my phone. Robert Hansen, the Rose Festival President, and PRFF Associate Director Marilyn Clint had challenged each other to ride the Big Sling before the end of the 2010 festival!

If you don't know what the Big Sling is, come on down to Waterfront Village next year and hang around Salmon Spring Fountain, right next to our new office. You can't miss it! This human catapult slings riders skyward nearly 25 stories high at over 3 Gs of gravitational force.

I ran down to meet everyone at the south end of the park, wrestling my camera out of my oversized event bag. I had already talked to Hot Shot Thrill Rides (the company that owns and operates the Big Sling). I waved to the operator to let him know we were there and ready. I looked around the crowd of people gathered beneath the ride, waiting to see who the next brave soul would be. There were Marilyn and Robert standing sizing up the big red, white, and blue structure.
Marilyn Clint & Robert Hansen - ready to ride the big sling!
Marilyn Clint and Robert Hansen
Ready to ride the big sling!

"Well, are you ready?" Marilyn asked, smiling at Robert.

"Are YOU ready?" Robert replied, smiling right back at her.

They marched up the steps to the double seat, and looked back at us as they were strapped in. And then...

They didn't even scream! But they were grinning ear to ear when they were finally let out of that chair.

They survived to serve Rose Festival for another day!

So the question is -- who's next? See YOU there next year!

Vive le Carnaval!

-Robert Hansen, Rose Festival President

Janie and I just returned from a vacation in Nice, France--a vacation of many memories! Prior to leaving town, I had a chance to contact Annie Sidro (1998 International Festivals & Events Association Hall of Fame Inductee), an advisor to the Carnaval de Nice with a long family history (float building and designing since 1887). What I thought was going to be a brief meeting in France turned out to be a lot more! Annie is the President of an organization called Carnaval Sans Frontieres (Carnival Without Boundaries).
One of the most picturesque places on the planet

Within hours of arriving in Nice, there was a call to our apartment from Annie wanting to come over to talk to us about our vacation and schedule. We met with Annie our first day, and immediately we had a new friend! Prior to our arrival, Annie had arranged for me to meet with the Vice Mayor of Nice, the Director of Tourism for Nice, the press service supervisor for the office of tourism, and a float designer and builder for the Carnaval de Nice!

Thanks to the Rose Festival’s membership in the International Festivals and Events Association (IFEA), I was able to make this connection and share information about the Rose Festival, and most importantly learn about another carnival. (The Rose Festival started out as the 'Rose Carnival' back in 1907!) We are not alone out there in the festival and carnival business. And we are not limited to our region, state or country. There are events all around the world similar to ours where we have the opportunity to learn from.

I was treated like a real VIP in Nice

It was very clear in my meeting with the Vice Mayor of Nice, Rudy Salles, and the Director of Tourism, Denis Zanon, that they have an interest in our festival, and they want us to learn more about the Carnaval de Nice. During my meeting with the Vice Mayor, he invited me to return to Nice for Carnaval with other festival and/or city representatives, so that we can begin building a relationship between our two festivals. They even extended an invitation to bring our queen, so she could ride on one of their floats!

Here is a little bit of trivia that links the Carnaval de Nice with Oregon. Did you know one of the float designers for the Carnaval lives in the Portland area? Chad Crowe has had five designs used in past Carnavals. Annie told me the Carnaval float committee has chosen two of Chad’s designs to use in the 2011. Quite an honor!

Janie, me and friends--on the right are Annie and Cedric

The floats are a story in themselves; they are HUGE! All are built in the same float barn (referred to as the Carnaval House, in Nice). In the 2010 Carnaval de Nice, there were 10 designers and 20 floats--all very creative and different! We had the opportunity to meet one of the float designers, Cedric Pignataro, who also builds floats. Cedric is a fourth generation Carnavalier and has done work for Disney Paris. Cedric designed the 'King' float for the Carnaval in 2010, a great compliment.

What an amazing setting for the Jazz Festival!

Not only did Annie arrange all of these meetings for me, she was also a great tour guide. She took Janie and me to the Juan les Pin Jazz Festival, the Nice Jazz Festival (Pink Martini was there), a midnight drive to Monaco and Monte Carlo, a 2:00am visit to Prince Albert’s Palace (he didn’t wake up for us), and she made sure we had everything we needed. Thanks to the festival industry, our personal vacation was enhanced by making new friends and gaining new knowledge about another outstanding carnival and festival. We hope that the personal contacts we have made lead to an ongoing relationship between our two festivals.

I started to look a little French, didn't I?

But, most importantly, we learned through Annie, that "a carnival is a world sans frontiers, without boundaries of class, national origin, language, wealth or occupation; a world which unites all in a common creative expression."

Let 'er Buck, Centennial Style

-Carol Ross, Director of Sales & Marketing

The biggest Rose Festival ever--our award-winning Centennial Celebration in 2007--was an amazing experience to be a part of. Our neighbor to the East, the Pendleton Round-Up, is celebrating this same Centennial milestone in September, 2010. In fact, a special feature of the 2010 Grand Floral Parade was a HUGE entry celebrating the Round-Up's 100th Anniversary, including a mounted 'marching' band, The Round-Up and Happy Canyon courts and Directors and more, all on horseback. It was the largest equestrian unit since the Centennial parade and was amazingly impressive.

Pendleton parade entries thrilled the crowd

I felt very fortunate, just one week after the 2010 Grand Floral Parade, to have the opportunity to travel to Pendleton and enjoy a little 'Let 'er Buck' hospitality, in a behind-the-scenes sort of way. The Oregon Tour & Travel Alliance (OTTA) had its June quarterly meeting planned in Pendleton for more than a year, which included a private reception for OTTA members to enjoy the Pendleton Round-Up & Happy Canyon Hall of Fame. Located across the street from the Round-Up grounds, this new two-level museum held a wealth of Round-Up event history and honored the many volunteers who have helped it grow.

The Round-Up grounds are one of Oregon's famous event sites

About a dozen Round-Up Association Directors as well as Happy Canyon Directors (and the beautiful Happy Canyon Princesses in full regalia) greeted us with a warm welcome. These folks provided a wealth of knowledge to go along with the interpretive exhibits on display around the museum, spanning the entire 100 year history of the event that Pendelton (and all of Oregon) is proud of. I was particularly impressed by the portion of the exhibit that was specific to women and their participation in the annual event including roping and competing--things that proper young ladies weren't typically doing around the turn of the century. We learned about many of the new features on the Round-Up grounds that will make the hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the globe more comfortable as they enjoy the Centennial events, many of which are completely sold out. These amenities will be enjoyed by the next century of festival-goers as well.

I got my own Round-Up dvd!

The spirit of Round-Up is evident in this quote:
"In good times and bad, Pendleton has gone on with the Round-Up. People over on the Umatilla have always been willing to take a chance. Maybe that's the real cowboy spirit. Maybe it's a little bit tougher brand of civic spirit. Anyhow, in Pendleton, the show goes on."

It's clear that the Pendleton Round-Up Assocation and Happy Canyon board have spent countless volunteer hours planning and preparing for the big Centennial weekend, September 15-18, 2010; and they're ready for the show to go on!

The Pendleton Round-Up Centennial is surely going to make a mark on event history in Oregon, and for all those who are fortunate enough to be able to participate, you are in for an unforgettable treat! Let 'er Buck!

A Special Knight

-Sir Angel Ocasio, Rose Festival 'Boss Clown'

There are moments in ones life when things happen that are just super cool. Being knighted by the Queen of Rosaria is one of those cool moments. And, sharing that moment with Brian Grant and Terry Porter of the Portland Trail Blazers, and Dana Jeffries of K103 Radio is where the super comes in.

It was an exciting moment for all of us!

On Friday, June 11, I was knighted at the Portland Royal Rosarian Annual Knighting Ceremony. This special event started back in 1920. The honor has been given to such notable people as John Phillips Sousa, Lawrence Welk, Jimmy Stewart and one of my all time favorite comedians, Red Skelton.

Prime Minister Sue Klobertanz chose me for this honor

As a performer, I welcome an audience of any size (actually, the larger the better). But, at this event I was more nervous than I have ever been in the 25-plus years I've been an entertainer. However, I did manage to make Queen Rachel, Prime Minister Sue Klobertanz and Prince Regent Denny Baker laugh by pretending that Queen Rachel had whacked me hard on my head with her scepter.

Didn't hurt a bit . . . really!

I was truly overwhelmed and deeply moved by the honor that was bestowed upon me. What a super cool moment.

Parade Rehearsal? Sorta!

-Marilyn Clint, PRFF Associate Director

Time to look back at all the Rose Festival memories that swept by without the time to blog about them! One of those was our 'parade rehearsal' on Friday, June 11. How do you rehearse for the largest single-day special event in the Pacific Northwest, the KeyBank Grand Floral Parade?

Well, you don't. Not really.

But there are things you can prepare for, like TV shots and turning those tough corners as you go through the Rose Quarter area--in and out of Portland's Memorial Coliseum. Setup for the parade starts on Thursday, and it includes details like painting out the parking lines in the lot that serves as part of the parade route and patching the driveways so the floats can easily drive through. And, of course, the trucks from Mira Mobile, our production company, move in as well. Many people don't know the Rose Festival produces our own parade telecast, with the support of our partner, KGW NewsChannel 8.

Associate Producer Carolyn Kaleel goes over the script with Drew Carney, while hosts Tracy and Joe check out their 'dressing room'

The day before the parade, Chairman Sue Bunday called for our key committee people to meet on site where the TV production trucks, bleachers and rigging were already setting up.

Sue gives the Parade Committee members (Brett Baker in center) an orientation

We also invited as many entry representatives as we could, so the actual 'stars' of the show would have a chance to get the lay of the land. The Grand Floral Parade is a pretty complicated event, after all. We start on the south side of the Coliseum, then we enter the big south door and perform for the audience inside. Then, after making it through another big door (those doors were built for this exact purpose!), the line of march heads for our TV cameras and the reserved seats on the north side of the building.

All this before ever hitting the route!

The riggers wriggle up the scaffolds for the banners

We didn't have many entries show up this year, but the committee members got a good walk-thru with Sue. Next year she'll be the Rose Festival president, so she'll be riding in the parade as one of the VIPs! Her role as parade chair will be assumed by committee member Brett Baker, and he knows he has some big shoes to fill. Sue has been an amazing leader, and this year's great parade is certainly the proof!

An Eventful Weekend

-Rich Jarvis, Public Relations Manager

One of the great perks of working as the Public Relations Manager with the Portland Rose Festival is managing the Festival's Sanctioned Events program. As stated in the official handbook, "The goal of the Portland Rose Festival Foundation's Sanctioned Events Program is to incorporate events that provide the potential for a broader base of community involvement for participants and observers."

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As the front line staff person for the committee I often get to know the organizers pretty well and have established some wonderful working friendships with them all. The great perk for me is when I can get out to these events myself, meet the people I have spent months in friendly conversations with and enjoy the event first-hand. With the Rose Festival celebration events now over for 2010, I was able to get out and visit three different events this past weekend.

The Rose Festival signage helps makes it official!

I started my event day Saturday, June 19, near Portland State University where the South Park Blocks are host to the weekly Farmers Market. The Day of The African Child presented by the Harambee Center set up next door just around some construction fencing that didn't discourage marketers from checking it out.

Amazing Grace and me

My good friend Grace Kuto, the lead organizer, showed me how the volunteers were working to connect people of the Pacific Northwest to people and cultures of Africa through music, food, story telling and arts and crafts, including drumming and dancing. It was a perfect setting for this event and many people were enjoying themselves.

The checkered finish line

My next stop was North Portland and Portland International Raceway for the Gold Cup Road Race and the smallest fastest four-wheel speedsters I've ever seen, Extreme go-karts for adults. These things were too fast for my camera (or reactions), but I did see some very interesting and unique karts go past at what has to be some of the fastest average speeds that track has ever seen. I have to say that looked like a lot of fun for those that were racing.

Having a powwow with Missy

The final stop on this special events day was at the 40th Annual City of Roses Delta Park PowWow and a meet-up with my friend Melissa Schachner, one of the many volunteer organizers from the Bow and Arrow Culture Club that produces the encampment.

A potential 'Rose Princess'

Missy (as she's known to her friends) stopped to give me a quick tour between her duties, and explained that they were currently judging for the new Miss City of Roses. She explained the program is similar to the Rose Festival Court; girls applying for the position must go through an interview process, be judged on presentation throughout the three days and compete in a dance competition.

The picturesque PowWow

As we spoke next to the large tented dance pavilion, a group of drummers sat nearby, keeping time for a colorful assortment of dancing Tiny Tots, followed by Teen Girls Fancy/Jingle and then Teen Boys Fancy/Grass. Clearly a lot of work and skill went into these costumes--the most colorful collection I have ever seen in one event. The PowWow is a rich and wonderful tradition that is a treat for all people of all cultures to enjoy.

I'll be back next year, but for now I am looking forward to next weekend and the Good in the Neighborhood in N.E. Portland and the World Beat in Salem! Fortunately these events last more than one day, because there is so much going on with them that I'll need at least a day at each!

For more information, or to update your own social media page, don't forget to check out the Rose Festival's interactive subscription calendar.

-Leslie Goodlow-Baldwin, 2007 PRFF President

I once again had the pleasure of working with and traveling with the Rose Festival Court. This year in my job as the Vice-Chair of Selections, I worked with Charold and Kristen to manage the application, orientation and judging process. Back in January it seemed like such a daunting task to change the process to have all the schools judged on one day in one location, but it worked. One thing we learned is that, if we use the same location, we really, really need to stagger the times the girls arrive. I was just a little crazy with 140 applicants, various parents, school staff, directors and media all there at the same time! But it worked, and in March we announced 15 wonderful young women as this year’s Rose Festival Court.

In April we held our Princess Boot Camp, where the girls learn everything from how to walk, talk and eat their bread at a luncheon to the history of Rose Festival, Royal Rosarians and the Rose Society. We taught them how to write thank you notes, shake hands and mingle, how to get out of cars with a skirt on and how to sit with ankles crossed when on stage. They learned the Court motto of "teeth and tonsils," which means get your smile ready, because you are going to be doing that a lot!

Visiting with young fans

The girls also learned their 'Ditty' and dance, which was great fun; the dance team leaders from the One More Time Around Again Marching Band taught them. Their dance this year was to the Jackson Five song Dancing Machine. Their eyes got pretty big when I told them that I saw the Jackson Five perform that song live at the Coliseum--the one and only time they appeared in Portland!

Lots of fun, rain or shine!

Court travel started the last week of April, and what a whirlwind couple months! I talked about our two overnight trips in my other blog entries (here and here), but the girls traveled six days a week for anywhere from 6-10 hours a day, multiple visits and recitations of their ditty.

Some of the highlights for me were the school visits, Sacramento Elementary School’s Kindergarten classes and their drumming class; Tubman young women’s academy and all the questions from potential princesses--as well as embarrassing my youngest daughter just a little bit; the Open House of the Rose Building and opening night of the festival. Although it was raining (when wasn’t it this spring?), we had a great time on the rides and eating elephant ears and apple pie fries! The girls were in four parades: 82nd Avenue of Roses, St. Johns, Starlight and the Grand Floral. All of them were amazinglydry, and three of them were actually warm!

Beautiful girls, regardless of their clothing choice!

I had a great time traveling with the Court members; all very deserving of the title princess, they are sure to go on to great things in life. I’m grateful for the hours of laughter, the 'rubber chicken' lunches and all the fun we had in the last couple months. I will always have a place in my heart for the 2010 Court and will remember them because of the great journal that they did for me . . . one quote which makes smile and cry: "Miss Leslie, you are the absolute best and the backbone to a wonderful program. Thank you for never leaving us and loving us like your own daughters."

Who could ask for a better goodbye gift than that? Thank you so much, 2010 Rose Festival Court, I will miss you . . .

The View From Above

-Tim Williams, PRFF Board Member

Each year, the Rose Festival is fortunate to have scores of great bands that want to participate in our parades. It's a year-round process helping bands through the application and selection processes and we're fortunate to have outstanding staff like Kristen Teel and a great Band Chairman, Frank Chinn, to help us get to what you see coming down the street on parade day.

1st Marine Division Band, a crowd favorite, honored us with their presence for the second year in a row!

For the bands selected to participate in each parade, the day involves far more than just the excitement of performing in front of the hundreds of thousands of spectators lining the parade routes. For each parade, the Rose Festival assembles a panel of expert judges to evaluate our high school bands on their musical performance, their marching skills, and the overall impact, or general effect, of their appearance.

Shu-Te Commercial High School returned again to delight crowds with their beautiful costumes and choreography (left)
Westview High School, winners of the Sweepstakes Award for Most Outstanding Band, show why with precision marching and music (right)

These judging panels are perched above the parade route with a bird's eye view of each band, allowing us to clearly hear the full impact of each band as well as observe marching formations and drill team performances. For those of us that think a parade isn't complete without a lot of bands, this is the place to be!

Battle Ground High School Band Director Greg McKelvey appeals to the judges for good scores,
taking home second place in the Out-of-State "A" Division

At the conclusion of each parade, we tally the scores for bands competing in each category and determine our winners. It is always rewarding to see bands that have worked so hard all year go home with awards within their division or even as the Sweepstakes Award winner as the best overall band in the parade. While not all bands place in the awards rankings, it's easy to see that we all come away winners enjoying the great shows they all put on.

Columbia River High School created stunning visual effects with their auxiliary units, taking home first place for Out-of-State "A" Division bands (left)
Oregon City High School thrills the crowd with their great show, good for second place in the In-State Open Division (right)

Look for us next year above the parade route with the "Band Judging" banner and let us--and the bands-- know your favorites as they pass by!

Last Chance to Chow Down on a Rose Meal!

-Carol Ross, Director of Sales & Marketing

The Rose Festival hosted its first-ever public Open House way back on Saturday, May 22, and despite the showery skies there was a great turnout. In true ceremonial style, a ribbon was cut, a rose was planted, and the Rose Building's original architecht, John Yeon, was honored. Guests were given Rose Festival goodies including a postcard and a two-for-one coupon good for the new Rose Meal at Elmer's. The hoopla ended at 3:00pm, but it sure felt like it was a long day.

Elmer's welcomes one and all

Ever since we signed a new sponsorship with Elmer's Restaurants, I've been excited to get a chance to help fund raise for the Festival and enjoy a tasty meal. I took my coupon and did just that. I went straight from the office on Saturday evening and met my family at our neighborhood Elmer's in Vancouver, just off Andresen. One of the first things we noticed when we walked in were the racks holding Rose Festival Calendar of Events brochures. When we were seated, the host offered us our Rose Meal menus and reminded us that 20% of all proceeds from the sale of the Rose Meal will benefit the Portland Rose Festival Foundation.

My daughter's kids menu had a Rose Festival coloring sheet tucked inside (which she got very excited about). Considering it was the inaugural day of Elmer's offering the Rose Meals, I was not expecting such a flawless delivery--and we hadn't even ordered our food yet!

A delicious steak!

The Rose Meal dinner--Steak Medallions & Crab Cakes--was truly amazing. We started off with a cup of steaming hot Ivar's clam chowder and tasty cheddar biscuits. The steaks were tender, juicy and perfectly cooked (just a little pink!) and the crab cakes were rich and delicious. We didn't have room for dessert, although we were tempted by the fresh strawberry shortcake.

The Rose Festival folks at the Parkrose Elmer's

Now it's hard to believe that tomorrow is our last opportunity to enjoy a Rose Meal and benefit the Festival at the same time. I hope we'll find time on the busy final day of Rose Festival 2010 to try out the breakfast meal . . . or maybe the chicken strip sandwich for lunch.

Helping to fund raise for the Rose Festival has never been so delicious!

-Marilyn Clint, PRFF Associate Director

We don't have much time to prepare for each and every Rose Festival event. Most events are live and spontaneous, with people reading straight off a script--if there's a script at all. Because of that, it's great to have a Rose Festival President who knows how to 'go with the flow,' like Robert Hansen, and fantastic professional emcees, like Bruce Murdock and John Erickson of K103fm.

John Erickson gives the girls some helpful hints

For the past several years we've been holding the Coronation ceremony in the Memorial Coliseum on parade morning. My earliest memories of the Coronation were when I was a high school student and the Coliseum boasted a revolving stage and an audience of thousands for the presentation of the princesses and announcement of the queen.

Even though the show is now simpler and more compact, it's important to present the Rose Festival Court in the best possible way. In order to prepare, we have a walk-thru a few days prior to the event, so the girls get a chance to at least get the 'lay of the land.' This is held in the gymnasium at Harriet Tubman Middle School, a spot that gives a great simulation of the floor of the Coliseum as well as the challenging acoustics.

Princess Lindsay practices with the microphone

On the afternoon of Junior Parade day, the girls, the emcees and several members of the committee met at Tubman and ran through the script and the simple event blocking. Thanks to board member Scott Guptill of PGE, this year we had a great sound system with two microphones, so the girls could practice speaking. And Coronation Chairman Arthur DeBow made sure we had two fake presentation bouquets, so the princesses could learn how walk with something in their arms.

Leslie and Queen Rachel enjoy a moment

We always practice the actual crowning, as well, and each one of the princesses has her head measured to find out the crown size. The Crown of Rosaria, made in 1922, is adjustable and articulated, so it has to be fitted to the queen's head. We consider it bad luck to choose one of the princesses for this practice, so we always announce a surprise winner.

Court Vice-Chair Miss Leslie's daughter Erica (touting her umbrella scepter) is queen for a day!

Even though it was his second year performing V.I.P. Coronation duties, Robert Hansen came to practice anyway and helped me set up chairs prior to getting started. Then he had to wait for a tow truck to come and get his car, because his battery had died. Having had car trouble myself the weekend of the Starlight Parade, I could identify.

Going through Rose Festival together, we certainly learn to appreciate one another, staff, board members, vendors and volunteers. We're all in it together, and as the old saying goes, "This is the real thing, not a rehearsal!"

"Please Welcome the PA Announcers!"

-Marilyn Clint, PRFF Associate Director

There's nothing like script-writing to put your mind in the middle of Rose Festival. Seems like much of my time is spent writing speeches, messages, statements or event scripts (not to mention quite a few blog entries)! The key to success at writing a script is to imagine yourself in the mouth of the speaker, so you can hear him or her saying, "Please give a warm Portland welcome to the amazing Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Motorcycle Drill Team!"

Ready to review the script

One of the important scripts we put together every year is the Grand Floral Parade public address script; from that we also glean the information used for the telecast script. Starlight Parade is the same. The information sent by the bands and floats and miscellaneous units is used to come up with a simple and readable message for all the entries.

While television newscasters take the lead on TV, the public address locations along the Starlight and Grand Floral Parade routes are manned by volunteers. Some of them might be lucky enough to have a media background, but most are just dedicated folks who love to inform the parade audience about the exciting entries passing by.

The script is more than 100 pages!

The Royal Rosarians take the lead on managing the PA project. For years Gordon Walker has been the Rosarian in charge. Gordon's extremely organized, with a great 'big picture' view of the parade and all its facets, both creative and logistical. He selects the locations, negotiates with the business owners and sponsors, orders the scaffolds and sound equipment and even takes care of insurance coverage when necessary. Then he recruits and wrangles the announcers themselves, making sure they're all ready to not only do the best possible job on parade day, but also enjoy themselves in the process!

Gordon leads the meeting

This afternoon was the PA Announcers meeting for the Grand Floral Parade. Since we don't have a large enough conference room to hold the group anymore, I had to lug the boxes of scripts across the river to the meeting spot Gordon got us. Every year I spend maybe a half hour giving my overview of the script and how it's laid out, as well as handing out credentials, pins and programs.

The PA Announcers do the rest!

Gotta have your parade credentials!

Once the scripts are out of my hand, the changes start. Naturally I got my first change the minute I got back to the office today. Nothing is final until the motorcycle police officer drives the route on parade morning and hands each tower the name of the new Rose Festival Queen and the list of float award-winners. After that, it's all up to the eagle eyes and quick patter of the PA Announcers.

As usual, I told the group we were hoping everything would come down the route in perfect order.

That would be a first!

Setting the Pace!

-Hailey Roberge, PRFF Office Manager & Volunteer Coordinator

As the saying goes, "Everybody loves a parade." So imagine my excitement when I learned I would get the awesome opportunity to be IN a parade! The PGE/SOLV Starlight Parade is definitely one of my favorite events of the Rose Festival every year. Illuminated floats, funky entries, and zany celebration are only a few features of this nighttime parade that keep Portland weird! When I asked Kristen Teel, events manager for the parade, if she needed help with anything, she immediately said she needed someone to be in the pace car. Always one for a new experience, I said "Sign me up!"

Radioed Up and Ready to Ride!

On my walk up Burnside toward the formation area on the evening of the parade I saw some of the crowd that had already formed, waiting to be awed. I could not wait to be one of the first friendly faces they saw as I helped set the pace for the parade! I arrived at the formation area and right away felt the energy buzzing around me. Boy Scouts practiced carrying their banners, people got pictures with Grand Marshal Seth Aaron Henderson, and parade marshals were dispatched to their sections of the parade. Soon, the car I would be riding in arrived and drew much attention from the people standing by. It was a 1929 Ford, shiny red with the name "Cherry Bomb" painted on the side. It was a beautiful car, not only setting the pace for parade timing but also for the quality of entries the organizers put into the line-up!

Grand Marshal Seth Aaron Henderson and Robert Hansen

As the parade start time drew closer, I glanced at the clipboard Kristen had given me with the times our car should be at certain intersections. A little nervous at this responsibility, I was assured by parade pace car 'alumni' that it would be a fun experience with plenty of smiling and waving with the crowd!

Public Address volunteers announce our arrival

After a few quick pictures with the driver and other passenger in front of the car, we climbed in and lined up behind the police car! Being the second entry in the parade meant it would be our job to get the crowd excited for the amazing parade to follow behind us. As a parade marshal indicated to us to begin moving along the route, I couldn't help but smile--and that smile never left my face the entire time!

Parade marshals like Glenn Mores are all along the route

We crawled along the route at a speedy three minutes per block (it's a good thing the police car was in front of us, right?). The driver and I got each of our sides 'competing' for who could cheer the loudest! I waved at many excited children, asking some of them if they could show me their best princess wave! Occasionally I would glance at my watch and clipboard to make sure we were hitting intersections at the right time. It was very important our car arrive at the TV broadcast area of the route at exactly 9:03pm for KGW NewsChannel 8's live footage. When we reached that milestone, I breathed a sign of relief. As we began rolling past the video cameras, I saw a few of my co-workers from the Rose Festival and waved! It was so great to see people I knew along the way!

Fellow staffers give me a thumbs-up

The rest of the parade went as smooth as could be. In what felt like no time, we were at the disband area at Lincoln High School, where I watched the rest of the parade float, march, dance, and glow past me.

Happy people are everywhere at the Starlight Parade

Riding in the official pace car for the 2010 PGE/SOLV Starlight Parade is an experience I will not soon forget. It just goes to show that when working or volunteering with the Portland Rose Festival, you never know what you'll be doing next!

Green Sensation!

-Marilyn Clint, PRFF Associate Director

Just came from the Starlight Parade route, where we followed the Cleanest and Greenest volunteers as they were passing out trash bags with Rose Festival's new sensation, the Green Men and a Little Lady.

The Green Men are at the Gate!

Last year D.B. Cooper was treated like a rock star along the route, starring in his own photo contest.

Hundreds wanted photos

But the Green Men were even bigger, especially in the eyes of the kids. While some were a little afraid, most wanted to get up close and check 'em out. The little girls were especially drawn to the Little Lady in her pink tutu. It was love at first sight! (Some sailors seemed to like her, too!)

A Green Man makes a discovery

Once again the party-like atmosphere of the Starlight Parade route is something really special. The rain has dried up (at least for now), and Portlanders are ready for some fun! Waiting for the parade is part of the experience: drawing on the street with colored chalk, playing ball and greeting guests, like the Green Men!

Starlight fans, young and young-at-heart!

There's been an illuminated parade since the very first Rose Festival. Many people don't know that Portland was one of the first cities in the U.S. to have electricity, and in the early 1900s the electric trolly cars were decorated for the Rose Festival's nighttime parade.

The Starlight Parade still seems to reflect its early roots, which were classic carnival, like Mardi Gras. No doubt tonight's parade will more than live up to both the tradition and the anticipation!

-Charlie M. Clint, Webmaster

Okay, I didn't have any of the 'brew' (smile), but I've been waiting for ages to go and have BARBECUE at Waterfront Village! And today is the PERFECT day for it! It's sunny and warm -- and to be honest, I didn't even wear my new polka-dotted boots (nor did I need 'em).

2010 Waterfront Village - Barbecue & Brew   2010 Waterfront Village - Barbecue & Brew
Head inside | Buy your 'coin of the realm'

Just head inside and go buy your 'coin of the realm' for food purchases. Then start scoutin' the food. The smell of barbecue is in the air, so this might not be as easy as it sounds! And for those so inclined, you can grab an adult beverage, too.

2010 Waterfront Village - Barbecue & Brew   2010 Waterfront Village - Barbecue & Brew
Find some barbecue | Get the goods!

My sister Marilyn got the pulled chicken pita, while I got a pulled chicken sandwich. Both were delicious!!!

2010 Waterfront Village - Barbecue & Brew   2010 Waterfront Village - Barbecue & Brew
Marilyn's pita | My sandwich

Then find a place to sit, or stand and watch some entertainment!

2010 Waterfront Village - Barbecue & Brew   2010 Waterfront Village - Barbecue & Brew
Lots of places to sit | Entertainment, too!

Come on down and join the fun! The most important thing? Have a GOOD time!

2010 Waterfront Village - Barbecue & Brew
Having fun!

Lending a Helping Hand

-Kristen Teel, Special Events Manager

Today I took a moment away from parade planning to pull weeds.

Time to get my hands dirty!

I joined the Rose Festival Court, City Commissioners Nick Fish and Amanda Fritz, and Rose Festival Foundation President Robert Hansen for a Day of Service with Rebuilding Together Portland, a wonderful nonprofit organization that helps those who--due to financial hardship, age, and/or disability--need help taking care of their homes.

People working together!

We met at the beautiful home of Opal Strong. For 50 years, Ms. Strong has lived in the neighborhood and watched many changes take place. A former community organizer, she helped plant many of trees that today line the streets of her neighborhood just off Rosa Parks Way. All of us were delighted to hear her stories as we devoured some pre-project lunch.

Stoking up before getting started

After fueling up for the afternoon, it was time to head out into the yard!

We donned work gloves, grabbed rakes, and picked up pruning shears; and together, we set about turning a somewhat scraggly yard into a beautifully weeded and trimmed oasis!

Many hands make light work

With more than 20 pairs of hands, the work went fast--and it wasn't long before we could see the fruits of our labors.

Voila! Before and After

All of us enjoyed putting our hands to the task of helping Ms. Strong, and learning more about Rebuilding Together Portland. I look forward to the "Day of Service" becoming an annual Rose Festival occurrence. Perhaps next time you'll join us!

Welcome Home to *All* Our Vets!

-Marilyn Clint, PRFF Associate Director

The theme of yesterday's Rose Festival Memorial Day Commemoration Ceremony was Welcome Home, one that's run through our festival programming this year. We wanted to welcome home the 41st Division combat unit of the Oregon Army National Guard, and we had their commander, Colonel Dan Hokansen, as our guest speaker.

We also wanted to offer an official Rose Festival 'Welcome Home!' to local Vietnam vets, like our board member and Commemoration emcee, Ron Carr.

2010 Memorial Day Ceremony - Marilyn Clint
Speaking on Memorial Day

I ended up being the one elected to give the speech for the Vietnam vets, and it was a deeply moving and humbling experience for me. In order to prepare, I revisited my teenage years, when my sister Charlie and I both wore POW/MIA bracelets that were sold by a group called VIVA, Voice in Vital America. The idea was to recognize that there were a lot of unaccounted for servicemen, and the recipients of the bracelets were supposed to wear them until their guys finally came home.

Charlie's POW actually did return as part of Operation Homecoming in 1973. Mine never did.

Capt. Richard Halpin, US Air Force

One of the things I did to prepare for the speech was dig out the bracelet from a box in the bottom of a closet; I faithfully wore it for several years in the '70s, until I finally gave up hope. Sunday morning I went on line and googled the name of Capt. Richard Halpin and finally learned his fate. He died in a gunship crash in 1972 and was declared dead in 1977; in 1986 his remains were finally identified at the site of the crash.

Now, 35 years later, I'm wearing the bracelet again. I'll probably take it off after the festival ends . . . but maybe not.

My bracelet

If you'd like to read the words I spoke during the Commemoration, follow the link:

Welcome HomeCollapse )

The Floats are Doing Fine!

-Marilyn Clint, PRFF Associate Director

One Memorial Day tradition for Rose Festival is testing the 'maneuverability' of the KeyBank Grand Floral Parade floats. The floats tool around the streets of NW Portland to be sure they're fit for parade day.

We have to be especially sure they can make the very first turn, the hard left into the south door of the Memorial Coliseum from the access road called 'Drexler Drive.' This ramp has been the site of some hair-raising parade morning moments when floats have had problems fitting between the columns of the historic building.

2010 Float Maneuverability - hippo float
The Reser's float will be a crowd pleaser!

The Coliseum turned 50 this year. For half a century the Grand Floral Parade has passed through the building; in fact, the big doors on either end were put there for that very purpose. When the Rose Garden Arena was built and the site was renovated, what was once a huge, flat parking lot became a relatively skinny ramp with a troublesome grade and a sometimes harrowing turn.

Floats are built to carry a message, to carry riders, to awe and to inspire; I often refer to them as ephemeral art, because they only last a little while and then they're gone, much like a sandcastle. Although they're built on the top of automobile or truck chassis, they don't have the features of a car, like a windshield and turn signals. The drivers usually can't see and are forced to take verbal instructions from a float marshal who is in contact via radio.

2010 Float Maneuverability - float
The PGE float is already powered up!

This is another thing we practice on Memorial Day; drivers and marshals are introduced, and then they work together to maneuver the floats around the warehouse of our Official Float Builder, Studio Concepts.

The first thing I saw on Monday was the bicycle-powered float sponsored by The Oregonian. Six riders were on board, and when they took off, we had no idea if they'd ever come back!

2010 Float Maneuverability - bicycle-powered float   2010 Float Maneuverability - bicycle-powered float
Wouldn't this look good in Cycle Oregon!

The naked floats look very different without their floral coats of many colors. You can see the burlap stretched over the metal shapes and the heads of the drivers popping out of the frames. It's hard to imagine how gorgeous the floats will look on Grand Floral Parade morning, even when you've done this as long as I have.

2010 Float Maneuverability - float driver   2010 Float Maneuverability - float driver
Head-popping during practice

It was great to see all our friends and partners, the many volunteers who are not just behind-the-scenes, but actually under them on parade day. As usual, 'Swede' Edlund from the Royal Rosarians was there wrangling the marshals; he's led our mechanical team for years.

2010 Float Maneuverability - Swede and Marilyn
Swede and me

In less than two weeks we'll meet again on parade morning, when hundreds of thousands more will get a chance to see the results of these many weeks of work.

Opening the Festival, Come Rain or Shine!

-Charlie M. Clint, Webmaster

Our first day was far from a sunny one, but as I said in my previous entry, rain doesn't scare us -- or the City of Portland! So right on time at 5:00, the gates of Waterfront Village opened wide, letting the public pour in (pun intended).

Before heading in to ride the rides, eat the food, play the games and enjoy the entertainment and free samples, people stopped to view our Opening Ceremony. Time to share more photos!

2010 Rose Festival - Queen Rachel and 2010 Court   2010 Rose Festival - velomobile, Diego and clowns
Queen Rachel and the 2010 Court | Velomobiles parade past the crowd

Keeping it GREEN (as we always try to do for the Rose Festival), 2009 Queen Rachel Seeman and the members of the 2010 Rose Festival Court climbed into bicycle buggies, pedaling along together for our opening parade. The exciting new participants were various velomobiles, human-powered enclosed vehicles designed for aerodynamic advantage and protection from weather and collisions. We had quite a few on hand, and one was even towing along two dogs! This very green element will also be seen in the Grand Floral Parade, on June 12!

2010 Rose Festival - velomobiles by fountain   2010 Rose Festival - rained-covered velomobile
More velomobiles pass by the fountain | Close-up of rain-covered velomobile

The crowd loved the velomobiles and couldn't get enough of viewing them up close! Many photos (aside from mine) were taken and viewers waved and cheered. I loved 'chatting' with the two dogs who rode in the trailer of one velomobile -- and they wagged their tails and woofed like mad!

Of course, people always love to see the Amtrak Cascades Character Clown Corps in their funny, brightly-colored costumes!

2010 Rose Festival - dogs in velomobile   2010 Rose Festival - clowns and visitors
Dogs in velomobile | Clowns and visitors

The rain can't keep the Rose Festival Staff from enjoying the fun! We were there joining the cheering, and smiling in spite of bad weather. And Oregonians are used to rain, so there were plenty of folks there with us!

2010 Rose Festival - Laura is smiling in the rain   2010 Rose Festival - visitors brave the rain
Grinning Staff member Laura | Visitors brave the rain

Those attending might have seen Dora the Explorer and her friend Diego mingling with the crowd! With clowns, kids, dogs, velomobiles, the Court and Queen and lots of FRIENDS, how could we help but have a good time?

And this year we've got the Green Men and a Little Lady, another part of the green side of Rose Festival! They joined our group at City Hall during our annual pre-festival visit, to the approval of City Council!

2010 Rose Festival - fun, rain or no   2010 Rose Festival - Green Men and a Little Lady
Fun, rain or no! | Green Men and a Little Lady

Waterfront Village opened, people moved inside and the festival kicked off with our usual fanfare and excitement! Later we had a concert, the official Rose lighting and amazing FIREWORKS! But I suspect that's another blog entry...

We hope to see all of YOU at the festival during the coming weeks!

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