A brisk, biting wind greeted people who lined Pacific Avenue this morning for the Daffodil Festival Grand Floral Parade in Tacoma. At least it wasn’t raining, many pointed out.
The crowd estimate from the two-hour Tacoma parade was 8,500, said Susan McGuire, spokeswoman for the festival. Next up: Puyallup at 12:45 p.m., followed by Sumner at 2:30 p.m. then Orting at 5 p.m. Find the full schedule here.
In Tacoma, metallic streamers fluttered on many floats. A Styrofoam bee bobbed up and down. The wind snapped at the flags of all 50 states, carried by members of the 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division from Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
The Daffodil Festival queen and her court kept warm on a Pierce Transit bus before the parade started, then took their positions on the float that was themed “Carousel of Spring.” They wore white wraps around their shoulders to try to fend off the chill.
“Just going to the four towns, there’s so much support,” said festival queen Annie Jeong of Stadium High School in Tacoma. “In Orting, someone told me their population doubles” for the parade.
She said she enjoys meeting people from different towns and festivals who take part in the parade.
“We’re all here for the same things: To enjoy the communities, and sharing that value of community,” Jeong said.
The grand marshals of the parade were Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor and Lakewood Police Department Assistant Chief Mike Zaro, who rode in convertibles and waved.
“It’s an honor bestowed on our people, who, as you know, have been through a very difficult time,” Pastor said. “We’re pleased and flattered that the Daffodil Festival would bestow that honor on us. It’s not about us, it’s about the people out there working 24-seven, 365 protecting people while putting themselves at risk.”
Zaro also said he was honored to represent his department in the parade.
“I’m seeing all the people who have been supporting us nonstop for the past four months,” he said. “To sit here and wave and say thank you, it’s almost too much for words.”
Daffodils were seen on just about every parade entry. A dog wore a daffodil necklace. Daffodil wreaths decorated horses, with a bouquet to freshen up the pooper-scooper bucket. Daffodils even popped out of a cannon on the Pirates of Treasure Island float.
Parker Larson, 9, and his mother, Nicole McKillop, of Tacoma, stood at the starting point for the parade at South 11th Street and Pacific Avenue. Parker, who wore his Weblos Scout uniform, said his favorite things about the parade were the police officers, the Army soldiers, the bike cops and the candy.
Barbara Snowberg and her 86-year-old mother, Mable Snowberg, watched the parade from the comfort of their Nissan Sentra parked at South 12th and Pacific.
“This is our favorite,” Barbara Snowberg said. “We’ve been coming every year since I was little. We never miss it.”
As she rolled up her window, she said, “Don’t freeze too much.”
Joe and Bev Wilson sat huddled under a Tacoma Rainiers blanket at South 14th and Pacific. Joe had his hood up on his parka and wore winter gloves. Bev sported a scarf. Their 21-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, wrapped herself in a Seahawks blanket.
“It’s a tradition,” said Bev Wilson, a lifelong Tacoma resident. “I’ve come every year since I was a kid. I just love everyone coming out, and the bands and the floats.”
They left their big umbrellas in the car. Five years ago, when it rained on parade day, they were the only people on the block. They sit in the same area every year. They said they’ve seen more people this year than in past years, but it’s not as crowded as it used to be.
“It’s kind of sad – you used to have to fight for a place to watch the parade,” Bev Wilson said.
Rowan Kirk, 4, sat on the shoulders of her father, Kelly.
“This is fun,” she said. “I can see everything from here.”
Rowan’s favorite things are the princesses and the gowns and the flowers, said her mother, Andrea McNeely. Rowan’s 13-month-old sister Eavan liked the horses.
Eavan pointed at the stuffed tigers that moved up and down on the Fife Milton float, which won the Judges Trophy for being most representative of the Pacific Northwest.
Outside the Starbucks at 11th and Pacific, Katie and Abe Tsigonis of Seattle huddled with warm drinks.
“It looked like a beautiful day, but we weren’t quite ready for the wind,” Katie Tsigonis said between sips of her green tea.
“He asked if I wanted it hot or cold, and I said, ‘Definitely hot, please,'” she said.
U.S. Postal Service letter carrier Bob Boren walked along the parade route making his normal Saturday deliveries. He pushed a mail cart decorated with a bouquet of daffodils. He called it the Postal Service’s float. A co-worker gave him the flowers.
“She was going to let me use her tiara, but she forgot it at home,” he said.