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First Rose Fest event parades down S.E. 82nd Ave of Roses

by: DAVID F. ASHTON - Mr. Rip City himself, the 2014 parade Grand Marshal Bill Schonely, greets the cheering crowd. Early that morning, dark clouds loomed overhead – but Mother Nature again smiled on the event, as the 8th Annual 82nd Avenue of Roses Parade formed at the staging area in Eastport Plaza, on Saturday, April 26. It’s the first major event of each year’s Portland Rose Festival!

Just before the procession headed north on S.E. 82nd Avenue of Roses, the sun broke through the clouds, and brought out a record number of spectators.

Officers with the Portland Police Bureau Mounted Patrol groomed their steeds, bands gathered, and organizations assembled their entries.

“It’s a wonderful parade, isn’t it?” remarked the spearhead for the parade, Eastport Plaza Manager Dianne Gill. “Even though we work hard to produce this event for a full year, when I see it, it’s an amazingly beautiful and fun spectacle. It's been going for eight years now, and it’s been growing every year.”

This year’s parade featured 72 entries, including 900 marchers, and 200 vehicles and floats, Gill recounted for THE BEE after the parade.

“We were thrilled that ‘The Schonz’, Mr. Rip City himself, Bill Schonely, agreed to be our Grand Marshall this year, and we also honored members of the Portland Police Bureau.”

The Last Regiment of Syncopated Drummers marching drum corps provided a lively beat, as did the unique sound of the Kells Irish Pipe Band as it passed by. “The Beat Goes On” marching band performed a mobile concert, including a Lady Gaga tune!

Eastmoreland neighbor and Portland Mayor Charlie Hales, with his wife Nancy, walked the parade route, greeting spectators.

“This is another beautiful day at the 82nd Avenue of Roses Parade,” Hales said. “This parade is always a good event.”

Presenting this parade year after year, Hales said, is important for the city, “Because it shows everyone that business and community members are working together, continuing to improve 82nd Avenue. It’s also a way for kids and families to get out and experience a unique part of their city.”

82nd Avenue of Roses Business Association President Richard Kiely, owner of Brentwood-Darlington-based “Home Run Graphics”, looked elated afterwards. “It was really rewarding riding in the parade, and seeing folks watching and having a good time, all along the avenue.

“Our dedicated group of volunteers work hard to put on this community event,” Kiely said. “We do this to bring vibrancy back to 82nd Avenue. In doing so, we bring together people in our local government, dignitaries, the police, ODOT, neighborhood and business associations, individual companies, neighbors, and communities.”

As evidenced by all the smiling faces, the efforts of the volunteers who work to put on this annual Rose Festival sanctioned parade pay off handsomely in terms of community-building, and good old-fashioned family fun.