The Grand Floral Parade that starts this morning in Tacoma and winds through Puyallup, Sumner and Orting is usually a purely happy event, a celebration of spring.
But it will hold hints of sadness today as festival organizers and royalty mourn one of their own. Alexandria Cole, the Daffodil princess from Chief Leschi High School, died Wednesday of an apparent suicide.
It’s believed to be the first time in the 79-year history of the festival that a princess has died during her reign.
The Queen’s Float, one of the first units in the parade, will carry a photo of Cole on the seat she would have filled, and Wynonna Swift, the 2011 Chief Leschi princess, plans to walk along the float in honor of her friend.
Other tributes to Cole also are planned during the parade, which was scheduled to start in Tacoma at 10:15 a.m.
“Once you’re part of our family, you’re always part of our family,” Steve James, festival executive director, told The News Tribune earlier this week. “We won’t forget her in the parade, and in everything we do.”