Not every county has a grand floral royal court, a queen and a parade that covers four cities — but Pierce County does.
This past Saturday, April 8, the 84th annual Daffodil Festival Grand Floral Parade took place. This event consists of four parades in one day. The towns of Tacoma, Puyallup, Sumner and Orting host the parades on the same day. Participates can walk in just one of the parades or in all four. The first parade in Tacoma began at 10:15 a.m. and the final parade in Orting started at 5:00 p.m.
The Daffodil Festival Grand Floral Parade spans 26 miles from Tacoma to Orting. The parade line-up had 30 floats and over 25 bands, as well as numerous walking groups.
“When you mention the Daffodil Parade to someone they know what it is…it’s the 2nd largest event in Pierce County” said Steve James, executive director of the Daffodil Festival.
The parade celebrates the community by honoring tradition, growth of Pierce County and the establishments and schools within. This tradition encompasses the history and growth of Pierce County. The floats decorated with thousands of yellow daffodils are a sight to see. The parade began in 1934 to celebrate the agricultural industry in Pierce County. Daffodils were the symbol of the event and have remained at the center. This event is the one that community members recognize and remember.
For those involved in the Daffodil Festival organization, especially the royalty program, much more goes into being a part of the organization. Each year, high schools in Pierce County choose one princess through a selective process. From the selected princesses, the organization chooses a queen at the yearly coronation. The Daffodil Princesses give back to the community all year long. Volunteering at schools and community events, doing appearances and giving their time to charitable organizations all fall under the duty of a daffodil princess. Beyond being an icon in the parade, the princesses act as ambassadors to the organization all year long and beyond.
“Since being a member of the royalty program, I now volunteer and help out as much as possible. I may no longer wear a yellow dress and a tiara, but I still try to say yes to helping with everything because I see such value in the program” said McKenna Erhardt, the 77th queen of the organization.
Another parade which falls under the umbrella of the Daffodil Festival is the Junior Daffodil Parade. Although the Junior Daffodil parade is not put on by the Daffodil Festival organization.
“[The Junior Daffodil Parade is] a separate organization that we fully support,” said James.
The Junior Daffodil Parade is the largest children’s parade in the state of Washington. To participate in this parade, each group must include children under the age of 18. Using a non-motorized float is also a requirement to participate.
The Royal Court and the Queen are special guests at this event. They spend time with the kids prior to the start of the parade and after they finish the route they take a seat to cheer on the participating children.
The 56th annual Junior Daffodil parade will take place on April 22, 2017 at 10 a.m. This parade can be seen in Tacoma’s North End Proctor District. The route will begin on the corner of Proctor and North 28 and ends on the intersection of Washington and North 26. If you missed the spectacle of the Daffodil Parade last Saturday or want to experience the feeling of community even more, don’t miss the Junior Daffodil Parade next weekend.
“You’ll see kids in costume, kids with animals, kids on wheels, kids on floats and kids along the street curbs watching! Great family fun,” said Junior Daffodil Parade Committee member Marva Pelander.