Starlight Parade

Last night we decided to skip the fireworks because the boys were tired from Graham’s birthday celebration, but there was no way to keep them (or me) away from the Starlight Parade tonight. We arrived and got a parking spot just before they closed the streets downtown. After hiking down to Blueplate and finding it closed, we settle on pad see ew (boys) and burritos (Tina and I) for dinner, which we purchased from a couple of food carts and toted back to the office. Everyone wolfed down their dinner and the boys and I adjourned into the Rec Room for a little Wii action while waiting for the parade to begin.

Outside the crowd had been massing since before our arrival. Once the police shut down the parade route to traffic, the streets turn into a giant playground for kids while the parents sit on the curb and enjoy the unseasonably warm weather. People began marking their spots with duct tape and chalk yesterday, but that’s nothing compared to next week’s parade for which many will “reserve” spots days in advance. The crowds spread out from the middle of the sidewalk until they reach the edges of the parking lane in the street and are pressed up against the buildings on the sidewalk. Although it looks festive, it’s too claustrophobic for me and we’re glad to have second story window seats above the fray.

The Starlight Parade is preceded by the Starlight Run which is a semi-competitive event that winds throught the parade route. Most runners dress up in costumes and the crowd cheers the best ones. Here’s a series of comments from Graham as the runners went by:

  • “tutu! jester! Fairy! Elf! Sunglasses!”
  • “Hawaiian Dude!”
  • A nurse and her patient (actually my observation)
  • “Cavemen… no togas. Supergirl. Soccer player. Some guy with colored hair right there. Who’s that?”
  • “Buzz Lightyear. Here’s Flash coming. Two Supergirls! A girl with pompoms. A hula girl. A marine. Togas! American man. American boy.”
  • “There’s jailbirds. Superman. Pacman! A leprachaun! A prom person. Chickens! A new hula girl. A green something and there’s another Wonder Woman”
  • “A viking! Or is that a devil? Banana! Hula persons! Canoing person. Cow! Another Flash.”
  • “Pirates! Somebody is moving it. I love Spiderman! So many green people!”

There was a bit of a break after the runners finished before the parade proper started but before we knew it, the firefighters arrived with their perennial feat of climbing 30 feet into the air and then jumping to the waiting rescue squad below. The crowd loves it! And not long after that, the One More Time Around Again Marching Band thundered to a halt in front of our building and played the hell out of “Louis Louis.” This is, by far, the highlight of the parade for me every year and the primary reason I come to see it. The power of the brass is overwhelming and I get chills each time. When the various high school bands march by after the OMTAAMB I can only feel sorry them. There’s simply no way to follow that act.

The streetlights are all dimmed or turned off and many of the parade participants wear flashing LEDs. Entries vary from regal to hilarious to annoying and it all will blend together eventually. I’ve retired to an office with a couch to watch the rest of it in comfort as I write these words. Eventually the PGE light bulb mascot will bring up the rear and remind everyone to pick up their garbage. Then the streets will slowly empty out and be re-opened. We’ll drive home and perhaps stop at Voodoo Donut for the boys. Life is good tonight.

Rose Festival Starts Today

Portland’s annual Rose Festival starts today and continues for the next couple of weeks. Tomorrow night there will be fireworks on the waterfront and then Saturday night the Starlight Parade will march through downtown. The following Saturday features the Grand Floral Parade but we’re going to have to miss it this year because of a Scouting event. I’ve always preferred the more informal Starlight Parade anyway. CPS HQ is located right on the parade route so we get free front row seats every year. Everyone else marks their “reservations” with duck tape on the sidewalk and lawn chairs chained to roadside signs.

Every year the big ships come in and dock for a few days while their sailors roam the streets of Portland enjoying shore leave. There is also a week long Family Fun Center with carnival rides, but we hardly ever go there.

May Day 2007

When I was a kid, May Day meant that we made treat baskets for the other kids in the neighborhood and left them on their doorsteps. In Portland, May Day is celebrated as an international labor event. I happen to work on Broadway in Downtown Portland where the annual May Day March passes by. I snapped a few pictures as they passed by this year.