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Celebrate spring at Saturday’s Daffodil Parade

The Pacific Northwest’s early spring isn’t putting a damper on the Daffodil Festival’s Grand Floral Parade on Saturday. There will be plenty of daffodils — flowers and princesses — for the 82nd edition of the parade.

“Shine your light with service” is the theme for the parade that features princesses with white gloves, marching bands and, of course, lots of flowers.

Knutson Farms manager Celestino Zacapu said his crews worked nine to 12 hours a day in mud and rain to pick the 500,000 daffodils that will be needed for the parade. Because they were picked three weeks earlier than normal, the flowers have been in cold storage.

“One day before (they’re picked up) I’ll put them in buckets of water so they’ll be ready to put on the floats,” Zacapu said.

One of the floats in Saturday’s parade will hold the royal court of 24 Daffodil princesses led by the Daffodil Festival queen, Ashley Becker of Bonney Lake High School. The queen and princesses are selected each year from girls nominated by Pierce County high schools.

Executive director Steve James said the festival’s theme reflects a new emphasis on service for the princesses who serve as Pierce County’s official ambassadors. By Saturday’s parade, the princesses will have made close to 200 public appearances, 18 on April 4 alone. By the end of their reign, they will have put in more than 7,000 hours of service.

James said the princesses make the biggest impact with youth. They are particularly popular at Boys and Girls Clubs.

“They walk in, and the kids scream like they’re rock stars,” James said of the princesses. “They spend quality time with them. They invest in the youth.”

The princesses are also popular with civic groups to raise funds, James said.

“People just don’t say no to Daffodil Princesses. People get excited and open up their wallets,” James said.

Reflecting the theme of the festival, auto dealer and philanthropist Jerry Korum will be the parade’s grand marshal. Puyallup Tribal Chairman Bill Sterud will be the community grand marshal.

The Daffodil Parade will include more than 165 entries, including 30 daffodil- and other flower-covered floats as well as dancers, classic cars, mounted units and Girl Scout troops.

The parade is the first of the year in the Pacific Northwest, and several floats will represent other regional parades.

As in years past, the parade route winds through Tacoma, Puyallup, Sumner and Orting.

The Daffodil Festival — and its iconic yellow flower — celebrates youth, service to community and the approach of spring.

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