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Millen neighborhood parade is a labor of love

TIGARD - For the past 14 years, Carol Gifford and Leslie Rogness have organized the Middle of Millen Drive Independence Day Parade, and on Monday the duo staged their most riveting celebration yet, complete with red, white and blue floats, classic automobiles and costumed revelers.

The parade, which attracted hundreds of spectators and participants, is the product of the hard work of two women and their supportive neighborhood.

'It all started with a lot of calling and begging,' Gifford said. 'But once someone tried it just one time, they were hooked.'

The annual parade takes place on the small, residential Millen Drive between 92nd and 93rd avenues. This year the parade featured four Washington County police officers on horseback, a costumed-clan of Star Trek fans, a giant inflatable Uncle Sam and a local Cub Scouts group - not to mention countless decorated bikes, cars and even a boat that rode along the parade route.

'Every year we get help from the Tigard Police Department, Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue and the Washington County Mounted Sheriff's Posse,' Gifford said.

Leslie Rogness decides on a theme for the parade each year, and this year the theme was, 'Favorite American Holidays.' Dozens of revelers sported costumes for Christmas and Easter and some even honored the lesser-appreciated holidays, including Flag Day, Arbor Day and April Fools.

'The costumes get crazier every year,' Rogness said. 'And the crazier the better.'

Rogness donned a giant red heart that read, 'I Love You' and wore a matching bow and sunglasses to complete her Valentine's Day attire.

Tigard Mayor Craig Dirksen is also a parade staple. He walked the route with Janelle Gaerlan, the winner of the 'If I were Mayor…' poster contest in the elementary school category.

While children stood on street corners with bags in hand to collect candy thrown from floats, Gifford and Rogness beamed with pride in what they have accomplished.

'This is a labor of love,' Gifford said. 'You can't buy what we have here today - it's home-grown Americana.'

Gifford and Rogness are quick to deflect praise for the Fourth of July celebration, and they hope for even more exciting parades in the years to come.

'The parade has grown in size every year,' Gifford said. 'And it will continue to do so as long as we have so many fun-loving people around.'