The Daffodil Festival Grand Floral Parade wound its way through the four Pierce County cities of Tacoma, Puyallup, Sumner and Orting on April 8, as it has done every spring for the past 84 years.
And while the sunny yellow celebration may have been overtaken by cloudy skies at some points along its route – as it has plenty of years before – it was hard to rain on this particular parade, filled with images of palm trees, hula dancers, and homage to Disney’s “Moana,” in keeping with this year’s Festival theme of “Daffodil Paradise” chosen by Daffodil President Ernie Ouellette.
The endless assortment of weather patterns throughout the day brought with it strong gusts of wind, sprinkles of rain and even bright sunlight, highlighting the spring weather at its most Washingtonian. Still, it wasn’t enough to prevent this year’s Daffodil Princesses from enjoying their moment in the sun.
“We truly experienced all four seasons in the span of four parades,” said Wilson High School Princess Amaya Fox. “We had cloudy weather in Tacoma, sunshine in Puyallup, hail in Sumner and a mix of rain and sunshine in Orting.”
Said Princess Thipsuda Srinakrung – who goes by Mook – from Foss High School, “I was almost expecting snow in Orting!”
“It honestly did not even feel that cold to us,” said Fife High School’s Princess Katie Meinecke “We were all having so much fun, and keeping warm while dancing and waving on the float!”
Princess Tallia Campbell, from Chief Leschi High School, even said that she “couldn’t have asked for a better day.”
“The Parade was so much fun, and unforgettable,” said Princess Tallia. “We really got to experience every type of weather… and still had smiles on our faces, and had a lot of fun.”
Plenty of Festival partners from organizations throughout the Pacific Northwest made the trek to Pierce County for the first parade of festival season, from prominent partner Seattle Seafair Festival, to as far away as the New Westminster Hyack and Penticton Peach Festivals of Canada. The Daffodil Royal Court got the chance to interact with visiting royalty from other festivals who they will be seeing again throughout the summer.
However, with so many people lining the parade routes, the royalty weren’t the only ones this year’s crop of Daffodils were excited to see.
For Princess Naravie Phaisan from Lincoln High School that included some familiar faces from past Daffodil events. “Recognizing kids I’d met from library visits in the crowd was shocking… Every kid at every library visit always says to wave to them when I see them in the crowd on Parade Day, but I knew the crowds would be so big I’d likely miss them. But I didn’t, I saw every single one of them.”
“Everything about the parade was amazing,” said Princess Leilani Espino from Mt. Tahoma High School. “But what I enjoyed the most was being able to interact with the kids.”
“The way the community treats us as Princesses is mind-blowing,” said Princess Naravie. “Everyone is so kind and excited to see us… the kids’ eyes light up when you approach them.”
“We got the chance to talk with community members,” said Princess Leilani. “It warmed my heart when I saw people of all ages smiling, laughing, and enjoying the Parade… it was truly an unforgettable experience.”
For Princess Bridget from Stadium High School that even included some unexpected emotions. “I’m not going to lie, I cried a little bit before the first parade,” she said. “I was so happy to be there. It went by way too fast, and I am so lucky to have been a part of it.”
While the attendance of the parades remained high despite the weather, the highlight of the day, especially for the Princesses, was the last leg of the journey with the Orting parade. Not only was it the official end of the day’s celebrations, but it’s also the hometown of this year’s Daffodil Queen, Marin Sasaki from Orting High School.
“Tacoma was so much fun, but I’d have to say that Orting was my favorite,” said Princess Amaya. “I was blown away by the amount of people in attendance, and all the festivities that they put on… it seemed like the whole town of Orting came to watch the parade.”
Queen Marin Sasaki from Orting High School wishes they could have “a million more” parade days.
When reminded that she and her fellow Princesses would still be traveling to out of town parades over the course of the summer, she responded, “Not with everyone, on the Queen’s float.”
Those who were unable to catch the parade in person were able to watch it the following day, as KOMO broadcasted the proceedings as filmed in Puyallup leg, at 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 9. Like the event itself, the televised version was sponsored by the Emerald Queen Casino, a longtime Festival partner.
Despite the end of the Parade signaling the end of the most prominent Festival events of the season, the Royal Court still has plenty left to do during their reign, including acting as official ambassadors of Pierce County at out-of-town events over the course of the summer. They also will continue to do appearances with local partner organizations, such as with Boys and Girls Clubs, and take part in community service throughout the rest of the spring.
And you’d be hard-pressed to get an answer to what they’re looking forward to most… just ask Princess Bridget.
“I’m excited to go to out-of-town parades, and bring our ‘Daffodil Paradise’ to more people,” said Princess Bridget. “Or, the children’s hospital! Also, we haven’t gone to Boys and Girls Clubs yet… I’m so excited to visit.”
“I’m excited for everything,” said Princess Mook. “The experiences in Daffodil go beyond anything I could have ever imagined.”
“I cannot wait to continue with the community service and spend more time with my Daffodil sisters,” said Princess Katie. “It has been so fun to watch us all grow, with this amazing experience.”