Crowds lined the streets of the four Pierce County cities of Tacoma, Puyallup, Sumner, and Orting this past Saturday, April 9, in celebration of the 83rd Annual Daffodil Festival Grand Floral Parade.
The community event is well known throughout the Pacific Northwest for winding through all four cities in just one day. This year’s theme, chosen by Festival President Debbie Wood, was “Fun in the Sun.”
While the Festival itself originally grew as a celebration of the daffodil fields that bloomed in the Puyallup Valley, the Festival now represents a commitment to our community’s past, and a legacy over 80 years in the making.
Princess Kallie Sherwood, from Emerald Ridge High School was awed by the Festival’s history, and “how the community still bands together for a parade, just like 83 years ago.”
“Four parades is no easy undertaking. And I loved how huge the crowds were! I know the weather helped out.”
The involvement of local schools, businesses, and organizations, included marching bands, dance teams, and plenty of floats and cars bedecked in the Festival’s signature flower.
This community pride was matched by participation from Festivals from all around the Pacific Northwest and Canada, who made the drive along with their own floats and Royalty to take part in the celebration.
For Princess Tiauna Bill, from Chief Leschi High School, the faces she was most excited to see weren’t in the Parade themselves, but lining up along the parade route.
“I got to see members of my own community, the Puyallup Tribe, and I recognized some children from events we’ve done.”
One of her Parade highlights? “My little brother’s face lit up, when the whole [Queen’s] Float waved at him, and said, ‘Hi!’”
Princess Shayla Chandler, from Fife High School, was most excited to see the children along the parade route as well. “They were looking around, waving, not really in any sort of direction, until they made eye contact with one of the Princesses… then their whole mood changes.”
It was about two weeks ago, on April 3, when 2016 Daffodil Festival Queen Emily Oliver, from Spanaway Lake High School, was crowned at the annual Coronation event in Downtown Tacoma’s Pantages Theater.
She enjoyed the Parade from her seat in the middle of the Queen’s Float, a focal point of the event, which also conveyed the 22 other members of the Royal Court through all four Parade routes.
Queen Emily says that the Parade reminded her a lot of other events they’ve attended throughout their reign because of how excited everyone was to get involved.
“Our job is always, essentially, to help people… even if it’s just to make them smile and remind them that spring is here.”
Princess Jessica Nguyen, from Henry Foss High School, will always remember Parade Day because of the people she met along the way. “What will stand out and be most memorable to me about Parade Day is the smiles on everyone’s faces, and not just the children.”
“It isn’t until events such as these that I truly see the joy that the Festival brings to Pierce County.”
Those that missed attending the Parade in person were able to catch a recording of the Puyallup leg broadcasted during prime time on KONG 6/16 and NWCN later on that evening.
The Grand Floral Parade is a central community event every year, but has grown to include more members of Pierce County, with the integration of the television broadcast, as well as the Daffodil 5K Challenge, which leads local athletes on a series of 5Ks before each leg of the parade begins.
What it all boils down to for Princess Shayla is always going to be the Pierce County community, which makes the Festival’s legacy possible.
“Whether it be nursing homes or Boys and Girls Clubs, or the Grand Floral Parade, none of it would be possible without the community, and we wouldn’t be able to do what we love if there wasn’t that connection with the people in this area.”
Princess Kallie knows that there’s more to it than just one day of fun in the sun. “Most people just see the Parade, but there’s hundreds of hours of work we put in through the community before that.”
“We love being on the glorious float and wearing the pretty dress, but to us, the service to our community is the most important thing we can ever do.”
While the prominent events of the Festival year center around the Parade, the Daffodil Princesses are by no means finished yet.
The Junior Daffodil Parade, making its way through Tacoma’s North End Proctor District, will be taking place on Saturday, April 16, while the Marine Parade, hosted by the Tacoma Yacht Club, will be on Sunday, April 17.
The Daffodil Royal Court will also continue with appearances at Boys and Girls Clubs and Pierce County Libraries into the spring.
Over the summer, the Royal Court will travel outside of Pierce County to out-of-town parades. There they’ll really earn their title, appointed by the Pierce County Council of Official Ambassadors, by taking part in Festival events from Leavenworth to Seattle to Portland, and many more.
Queen Emily is primed and ready to experience the rest of what being a part of The Daffodil Festival has to offer. “I’m just so excited to soak up every ounce of everything we get to do as a Court.”
“It has gone by so fast, so I’m just really thrilled for the other parades and appearances we get as we continue on throughout the summer.”
Princess Tiauna is excited to get their summer job as Official Ambassadors of Pierce County underway, in traveling to out-of-town Festivals. “I’m excited to take the Traveling Float to different parades and generate sunshine in places other than Pierce County.”
For Princess Kimberley Agfalvi, from Bethel High School, it’s exciting just to get back to the roots of what it means to be a Princess. “I’m mostly excited to get back into the community and volunteer.”
“I have the opportunity to meet so many amazing people, and get to see some of my new friends at the Children’s Museum and Libraries… I feel like I get just as excited to see them as they are seeing me.”