Saturday, May 31, 2008

Starlight Parade

The Starlight Parade kicked off the annual Portland Rose Festival- over a week long celebration that included the Waterfront Village (a sort of carnival with rides and food booths), a fireworks display, Fleet Week, and the Grand Floral Parade.

I wasn't exactly sure what it was but someone described it as Portland's version of Disneyland's Main Street Electrical Parade. I was definitely curious and it had an interesting name. Many streets in downtown were closed off and spectators had set up camp on the sidewalks since that afternoon.

I found a spot by Central Library at about 8pm. Kids were enjoying themselves- running around, playing with light sabers and eating cotton candy- while the grown ups kept watch and talked amongst themselves. There was a sense of excitement and community all around.

It started with the Starlight Run- a marathon that runs the entire parade's route of 3.1 miles. At first I was wondering why some of the runners were dressed up as Dr. Seuss characters, clowns and why one guy was wearing a huge cardboard cutout of the Brady Bunch board with him taking the father's square. Apparently, it was also a costume contest for individuals and groups. The run was for all ages with kids running on their own, being pushed in strollers or riding on the shoulders of a parent. It looked really fun and something I'd like to do next year- sans wearing a costume.

As I was in a corner, part of the fun was seeing how the big vehicles would maneuver the sharp turn without running anyone over. Then there were those people who kept trying to cross the streets in the midst of a procession. I wondered where the homeless people went as there weren't any offensive smells.

Then there was the actual parade of lit-up decked-out vehicles, floats of various businesses and local clubs and associations, and high school marching bands and cheerleaders.

It didn't end until a little after 11pm. I'm sure the parade would have run smoother had it not been for the MAX trains that crossed the route. The weather actually held out (meaning it didn't rain) although a little on the chilly side. It was my first time watching a parade in its entirety and it was definitely interesting.

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