Monday, September 15, 2008

The Portland Rose Festival

In 2007, The Portland Rose Festival (which takes place in Portland, Oregon each May/June) was voted "Best Festival in the Universe", or some such outstanding honor. Since I have not attended every single festival in the universe yet, I cannot say if the award is accurate . However, I did go with a group to the Rose Parade held annually in Pasadena, California, and would give it very high marks in the "beauty" category. That is the one seen nationally on television in conjunction with the Rose Bowl Football game. Likewise, there is the "Run for the Roses" (aka the Kentucky Derby) that is equally famous. Anyone who has ever been inside Churchill Downs in Kentucky can feel the history oozing out of its hallowed grounds. So although not as many people have heard of the big rose event in Oregon, it is one I can heartily recommend. The group I was with made their way to Portland via air travel, and all had no major problems in that department. Even though the group was diverse, there are so many activities associated with the Portland Rose Festival, that most anyone can find something to interest them. There is a night-time parade, with lots of floats lit up to shine in the dark, there is the big day-time parade with beautiful floats, although they are not as elaborate as the ones in Pasadena. A new dimension to the daytime parade this year was that spectators were not allowed to camp out the night before in the spot where they planned to watch the parade. I guess in the past, this had caused some heated turf battles (which they called the "Duct tape wars" because that was how spectators-to-be marked off their territory); A very nice feature of the parade was one of the methods of clean-up when it was over. This really impressed me because the year I attended the Pasadena event, it was shortly after 9/11, and all the large trash cans had been removed from the streets out of fear of terrorist bombs being secretly hidden in large trashcans. As a result, the amount of trash filling the streets at the conclusion of the Pasadena event was MASSIVE, because there was no place for the spectators to put their refuse. However, for the Portland event, volunteers went along the parade route before it started, giving spectators a white, plastic trash bag with the Rose Parade logo on it for them to bag up their trash into before they left. The result was a much tidier city than what I had seen at the Pasadena parade. Another nice feature of the Portland parade was that you could purchase tickets to watch the parade inside a big event center there. The parade came in through one end of the building and left through the other end of the building. Bleachers lined the insides of the building, keeping spectators dry. One DOES have to consider the strong possibility of rain in Portland in the spring; in fact, if you are used to using the sun to tell you which way is north, south, east, and west---I would suggest you take a compass with you to Portland, because the sun was in short supply during the time my group was there. Parades are just one part of the Portland Rose Festival; there is, of course, the big rose show, where ribbons are awarded for the outstanding rose for that year; there are foot races, costumed fun runs, art shows, special film debuts, children's activities, a carnival, a downtown "urban garden" show, and on and on. So if you go, try to spend a few days there enjoying all this lovely city has to offer!
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