Spring is in the air, and it's time for the 84th annual Daffodil Parade. All the excitement blooms on Saturday, April 8 with parades in Tacoma, Puyallup, Sumner and Orting. It's an all-day affair, and promises to be full of color and pride.
"Daffodil Festival is a celebration of Pierce County," said Steve James, Daffodil Festival Executive Director. "If you haven't been there before, it's a crazy event. It's four cities. Four different parades in four different cities in one day. We can't find anywhere else where it's as crazy as that."
The Daffodil Festival started back in 1934 as a celebration of the agriculture industry. And while it's evolved and changed over the years, the Daffodil Parade is still centered around the community.
"On parade day there's about 130,000 people who interact with the community, and besides the Washington State Fair, this is one of the biggest events in Pierce County," explained James. "You talk to anyone who grew up in this area that was in any band, they watch the parade, they have some sort of connection. You say the Daffodil Parade or the Daffodil Festival, people start sharing all of their memories."
One young woman with great memories of the Daffodil Festival is newly-crowned festival queen, Marin Sasaki, a senior at Orting High School.
"My family has been really involved in the festival since before I was born," said Sasaki. I was selected as a princess for my high school, and Saturday night, I was selected queen of the festival. The parade is going to be awesome with everyone waving. I think everyone's going to be excited and that makes me excited."
But ask Marin, or any Daffodil Princess, and they will tell you being part of this royal court means more than just wearing a tiara.
"The Daffodil Festival isn't a pageant. It's a leadership organization," explained Sasaki. "So, what we do is work in the community and go to libraries and read with kids and just give back."
Marin and the 22 festival princesses dedicate several hours a week giving back to their communities.
"To be a Daffodil princess anymore, it's more than just a title. It's a way of life," explained James. "They're so involved in the community, it's not that we put them in a dress and a tiara and they get to walk around and be a princess. Being a princess means going low and serving the community however the community needs it."
And what would the Daffodil Parade be without actual flowers?
"They'll use about a half million this year, or a little more," said Roger Knutson, owner of Knutson Farms. "We have provided the flowers for years. Daffodils were always in the valley. I was born on the farm. My dad did it before me and it's a great tradition."
The flowers were picked this week and they'll be stuffed into the 28 floats you will see lining the streets on Saturday.
Here is tomorrow's parade schedule:
- Tacoma - 10:15 a.m.
- Puyallup - 12:45 p.m.
- Sumner - 2:30 p.m.
- Orting - 5 p.m.
The theme for this year's parade is "Daffodil Paradise."