A boatload of daffodils at Marine Parade

Marine Parade promises a ‘Neptune’s Garden’ of blooms

Staff writerApril 4, 2014 

Cyclists wave from Ruston Way at “Done Trucking,” one of Fircrest Yacht Club’s entries in Tacoma Yacht Club’s 2013 Daffodil Marine Parade. It included other decorated yachts and the Daffodil Royalty traversing Tacoma’s waterfront and into Thea Foss Waterway.


Don’t ask Tacoma Yacht Club member Linda Dent what this year’s boats will look like in the Daffodil Marine Parade. She doesn’t know. In fact, she won’t know until they line up at 11 a.m. April 12 to sail from Point Defiance to the Thea Foss Waterway.

But that’s one of the points of the parade: to surprise and delight Tacoma with a flotilla of boats freshly decorated with daffodils.

The yacht club invites all Puget Sound boating clubs, big and small, to join in the parade; last year, about 30 clubs participated, Dent says. Some bring just one boat, others many. Each club is allowed two in the actual parade: a flag boat for their officers and a decorated boat.

“We never know (what they’ll look like) until the day of the parade,” says Dent, the marketing chairwoman for the Marine Parade committee at the Tacoma Yacht Club, which organizes both the parade (which is part of the official Daffodil Parade festivities) and the member weekend that surrounds it. “The (clubs) keep it secret because they don’t want anyone to copy them.”

Past years have seen boats dressed up as gardens, oceans with mermaids and rainbows. Daffodils are arranged in every way possible, as music notes, peace symbols, even supersize daffodils. The minimum number of flowers required per boat is 500, the maximum 3,000. That’s a lot of daffodils.

“You can run up to 10 or 20 dozen daffodils,” says Dent. “We have a 49-foot boat, so it’s going to take a bit to fill that. It’s a lot of fun.”

But while it’s fun to decorate your vessel with spring flowers, keeping them happy in spring weather isn’t quite as much fun. Rain, wind and sea spray all take their toll.

Dent’s secret? Tie wraps and baggies.

“My technique is to put little baggies underneath the stems to keep them fresh,” she explains.

Held one week after the main Daffodil parade, the marine parade is now in its 62nd year. Boats line up at the Tacoma Yacht Club at Point Defiance to give an official salute before sailing past Ruston Way and down the Thea Foss Waterway, where they turn around. Boats are judged in various classes on originality, creativity with daffodils, neatness, color, and adherence to the theme, which this year is “Neptune’s Garden,” a nautical adaptation of the main parade theme of “Ready, Set, Grow.”

“People are very imaginative,” says Dent. “You could do anything with that.”

Landlubbers can watch the parade anywhere along its length – though near the Thea Foss offers the most cover in case of bad weather – and vote for the People’s Choice award on the club’s Facebook page. The voting has this year moved away from paper vote cards to online only.

Dent is hoping for a big audience turnout.

“People put a lot of time into these, so it’s very heartwarming when people are there cheering and clapping,” she says. “That’s the ultimate reward.”

Rosemary Ponnekanti: 253-597-8568

Daffodil Marine Parade

When: 11:15 a.m.-noon April 13

Where: Tacoma Yacht Club (Point Defiance) along Ruston Way to Thea Foss Waterway

Cost: Free

Information: tacomayachtclub.org; voting at facebook.com/tacomayachtclub

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