The remnants of a windstorm were swirling through downtown Tacoma Saturday morning during the 84th annual Daffodil Parade.
Spectators in winter clothing clashed with hula dancers. Yellow daffodils mixed with swaying palm trees.
The parade’s theme of “Daffodil Paradise” was interpreted by many of the float entries as a tropical paradise. The theme of “Hawaii Five-0” could be heard echoing down Pacific Avenue.
Fiatagata Allon Lilomaiava Leilua, 16, was standing next to his “Moana” themed float, representing the Bethel community. The Graham-Kapowsin High School student hadn’t yet decided whether he’d dance in the traditional barefoot manner.
“Should we?” Leilua asked his group.
But he drew the line at taking his shirt off.
“I’m a new type of Polynesian,” Leilua declared. That means wearing a shirt when the wind chill takes the temperature to 40 degrees.
Fellow dancer Kaylani Cruz, 18, had a beach towel wrapped around her as did several other teens representing Samoan, Hawaiian and Chamorro backgrounds.
“It’s Washington so it’s always cold,” Cruz said. “The music puts you in the mood.”
Executive director Steve James was eager to put a positive spin on the weather.
“It wouldn’t be a Daffodil Parade if we didn’t experience all four seasons during the parade,” he said.
By the day’s end — with stops in Puyallup, Sumner and Orting — there would be more than 5,000 participants in the parade and 31 floats.
Jasmine Wallace brought her two children, Stephon, 10; and Sanaa, 6, to their first Daffodil Parade. They were sitting on a curb near where the Daffodil princesses were gathered.
Stephon shyly admitted he thought the princesses were pretty.
But this wasn’t Jasmine’s first Daffodil Parade.
“I performed in them when I was in middle school,” the former Gault cheerleader said.
Daffodil Queen Marin Sasaki was perched high on her float, surrounded by her court.
“Everyone is so excited,” Queen Marin said. “This makes it real.”
She wasn’t fazed by the weather.
“It’s perfect,” she said.
A few blocks away, Mayra and Joaquin Kirk of Tacoma were sporting hats, gloves, long johns and jackets as they relaxed in folding chairs on Pacific Avenue.
“I’m a little cold, but I’m not freezing,” Mayra Kirk said. “We’ve been here when it’s been raining. We stick it out.”
Pulled off to the side of Pacific Avenue was a Jeep festooned with daffodils. They were tied to mirrors, filling a spare tire and sprouting from doors and hood.
It was Joy Mehr’s job, as part of the Tacoma Webfooters Jeep Club, to lend a hand if a float breaks down. Several of her club’s Jeeps and drivers were positioned along the route.
They usually end up towing one float a year, Mehr said. If a float gives out, club members quickly attach a line and tow it the rest of the way.
“That way the parade never stops,” she said.