The 85th annual Daffodil Parade was held in Tacoma, Puyallup, Sumner and Orting April 7 as a celebration of the royal court, the community and the history of the Daffodil Festival.
The parade kicked off in in Tacoma at 10:15 a.m. and traveled down Pacific Avenue — passing by the museums and UW Tacoma. The procession moved to Puyallup, where it started at 12:45 p.m., then traveled to Sumner at 2:30 p.m. and concluded in Orting at 6 p.m. The parade took over eight hours — rain and shine — to make the 25 mile journey through Pierce county.
The Daffodil Festival also puts on the annual Junior Daffodil Parade, which was hosted in Tacoma’s Proctor District April 14. This is the largest children’s parade in the state. It traveled from North 28th Street and Proctor down to North 26th Street, and then turned left and ended on Washington Street in front of the Wheelock Library.
The main festival started out as an organization of local leaders from Western Washington in 1926. Charles W. Orton and his wife, who lived in Sumner, hosted a garden party to showcase the numerous daffodils they had in bloom. The first official parade happened in 1934. Bicycles, horses and automobiles were all covered with daffodils and made the trek from Tacoma to Orting. There have been only three years since 1934 which the parade did not take place: 1943, 1944 and 1945 due to America’s involvement in World War II.
Every year, one senior from each of the 23 high schools in Pierce County that participates is selected as their school’s Daffodil Princess. Once the 23 seniors were selected, they were coronated during the Princess Promenade Feb. 18. On March 31, the Queen’s Coronation took place, where each of the princesses were judged on a myriad of criteria including their knowledge of the Daffodil Festival, academic standing, public speaking skills and sociability to compete for the title of queen. This year’s Daffodil Queen is Allie Brooks, a senior from Lincoln High School in Tacoma.
In addition to being Daffodil Royalty, these young women are official ambassadors to the Pierce County community. They take on active roles in their community and in reaching out and representing Pierce County in other parades. As a princess, they develop the necessary skills for public speaking, such as poise and confidence, as well as learning how to manage their time and organize a busy schedule.
Princesses also work with organizations such as the YMCA, the Boys and Girls Club, and Relay for Life. They interact with people from all walks of life, all ages and with community and government leaders alike.
Numerous community organizations also took part in the pomp and circumstance of the main procession, such as the Seattle Seafair Pirates and the Fife-Cossacks Stunt and Drill team. In addition to their princesses, participating schools were represented by their marching bands, cheer squads and students in their respective Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps programs.