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Starlight Parade Sunday, June 01, 2008

Royal Rosarians like Careen Langslet (right) are the "official greeters and ambassadors of goodwill for the City of Portland." One of their annual duties is to marshal the Starlight Parade, which wound through downtown Portland last Saturday night.

[above] Even recycling was cause to dance as the annual Rose Festival kicked off May 31 with the Starlight Parade. Portland Recycles' entry was one of dozens of floats, bands and other groups that marched in the nighttime parade. [below] The parade drew people of all ages to downtown Portland on Saturday night.

Last year I stumbled across the tail end of the Starlight Parade as I walked home from another event. The annual nighttime parade has roots back to 1907, and is one of the most popular events in Portland's annual Rose Festival.

This year, I found the time to check out the event for myself. It was alright, but not as good as I'd anticipated. Maybe my expectations were too high. There were a lot of entries (approaching 100, I think), including some very good bands, but I was expecting more of a light show—you know, use the darkness of the night for some kind of creative light show. There were a few attempts in that direction, but nothing really spectacular that I saw. (To be fair, I did shoot a lot of the parade from the corner of SW Broadway and Salmon, where KGW8 had the whole block lit up for their TV coverage and I could get the Arlene Schnitzer's marquee in the background. The light helped my pictures, but may have diminished the impact of any light shows the entries had. But I didn't see anything that made me say "Wow, that would look really cool if it were darker.")

[left] Even Honest Abe made an appearance May 31 at the Starlight Parade. [below] Probably the coolest thing I saw at the parade was Portland Fire & Rescue, who would set up a 20-foot ladder in the middle of the street and have one of their own do a swan dive off the top into the crash pad below, just like you see in the old-time movies. Lieutenant Inspector Louisa Jones, seen at the top of the ladder here, says they only let the smaller people do it--otherwise "it's too hard on the people below."

What was cooler, that I hadn't expected to see, was the Starlight Run. The 5-km race celebrated its 30th anniversary this year by looking back to the 1970s for the costume contest. Yes, you read that right—before the starting gun goes off, the runners' outfits are judged. I caught them at the corner of W Burnside and Broadway, about halfway through the race. As you can see, some of the runners are more serious than others.


AudreyLinden said...

There are so many interesting events in Portland! You have chosen a very cool place to live!

Matthew said...

It's not a coincidence. :)

AudreyLinden said...

I figured so!