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Portland Rose Festival announces virtual options as parades get pushed back

Festival organizers are offering creative ways to get in Rose Festival spirit.

PORTLAND, Ore. — The Portland Rose Festival was supposed to start May 22. But its biggest highlight, the Grand Floral Parade, won't be rolling down Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard or any other street for now. It's on hold for at least a couple of months.

"We’re trying to get something late summer, early fall. September is a good window, if we can, and that’s the big if," said Portland Rose Festival Foundation CEO Jeff Curtis.

The Portland Rose Festival has had to roll with the punches before in its 113-year history. It took a year off during World War II. And in 1980 Mount St. Helens' eruption made masks part of festival attire. This year, because of COVID-19, public health concerns are much greater for anything that draws a crowd.

"And altering may be to some other form. It may be moving it on into 2021 but that’s what’s important; to be nimble, to react to whatever we can do," said Curtis.

In the meantime, you can get into Portland Rose Festival spirit by following along on Instagram. Rose Festival princesses are there holding court as they continue their work online. And there are two virtual parades you can take part in, starting in May. The activities are featured on a new Parading in Place website.

"It's a brand new website for this unique and temporary event that we're having as our response right now," said Mariel Bunnage, an event specialist with the festival.  

On the new website you can learn about the Porch Parade, where you decorate your front yard, and the Grand Petite Parade, where you can make your own float. 

"It starts at around shoebox size and there’s no maximum size, so if you wanted to decorate your whole car, you could," said Bunnage, who added that finding new ways to celebrate the Rose Festival has been a good challenge.

RELATED: Portland Rose Festival going virtual due to COVID-19

Both virtual competitions are meant to to hold us over, while we hope the ships can still come in for Fleet Week, and City Fair can still provide fun on the waterfront.

Curtis said they set the marching orders for the festival this year in mid-March, when social distancing became the rule.

"Our role is definitely going to be part of the healing process and and what can Rose Festival do to instill hope in our community, to continue our traditions but do them differently, and be ready to answer the call when we can," he said.

The Portland Rose Festival is a nonprofit operation, and giving is way down right now. If you can answer the call to help them with a tax-deductible donation, they'd greatly appreciate it.

RELATED: Lincoln City Parks & Recreation takes activities virtual

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