Rhody Festival parade has that 'wow' factor, bids farewell to Port Townsend High's Redskins mascot after 79 years (** Festival ends today — schedule of events, Rhody Run ** )
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Port Townsend High School alumni show Redskins colors in Saturday's Rhododendron Festival Grand Parade for the last time. The school will adopt a new mascot, Redhawks, starting this fall. —Photo by Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News
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Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News
A man in a fish suit was part of Saturday's Rhody Parade, raising consciousness for the North Olympic Salmon Coalition and amusing the kiddies at the same time.
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Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News
Rhododendron Queen Addison Richert acknowledges a viewer of Saturday’s Rhody Festival Grand Parade as the royalty float makes its way down Port Townsend’s Water Street. From left are float driver Harlan Lafollette, Princess Lane Hill, Prince Shiloh Lanphear-Ramirez, Queen Addison and Princess Kaycee McGuire.

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

2014 Rhody Fest ends today

Events are:

■   Elks' Rhody Fundraiser Pancake Breakfast, 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. — Port Townsend Elks Lodge, 555 Otto St.

■   Jim Caldwell Memorial Rhody Open, 9 a.m. — Port Townsend Golf Course, 1948 Blaine St.

■   Rhody Run Registration, 9 a.m. — Fort Worden State Park.

■   Kids Sprint for Health, 9:30 a.m. — Fort Worden.

■   36th annual Rhody Run, 11 a.m. — Mini-marathon of 12 kilometers, or 7.45 miles, beginning at Fort Worden State Park. Race day registration is $45 for adults and $15 for those younger than 15.
PORT TOWNSEND — Overcast skies did not dampen the enthusiasm of the observers or the participants at the 79th annual Port Townsend Rhododendron Festival Grand Parade on Saturday.

The two-hour parade had 106 entries, including 10 bands and eight festival floats.

There was no official crowd estimate, although parade organizer Rita Hubbard said “there was way more than last year.”

“God loves Rhody,” Hubbard said.

“Every year, there is the 'wow' factor, which this year came from the cat loader from Port Townsend Paper. It took up the whole street,” she added.

“People came out. They showed up, and everyone is having a great time.”

It even had a poignant entry as Port Townsend High School alumni rode the parade brandishing the Redskins mascot for the last time in a Rhody Festival.

The parade began by the Port Townsend Fire Station on Lawrence Street, headed north and turned east on Monroe Street and south on Water Street.

At the parade's end, some floats turned right and parked on Washington Street while others headed straight through town giving tourists and locals an added bonus.

“The neat thing about this parade is that anything goes,” said Chimacum High School Principal Whitney Meissner.

“You don't see any particular theme. Everyone comes and is themselves.

“You see people playing dodgeball, riding bicycles and blowing bubbles,” she said, rattling off descriptions of what was in sight at the time.

The parade's grand marshal was the Port Townsend Alumni Association, which paid final tribute to Port Townsend High School's retired Redskins mascot, removed because the symbol was deemed offensive to Native Americans.

The new mascot is the Redhawks.

Some long-time residents are still unhappy with the change, Redskins supporters put on a mini parade with eight cars, two motorcycles and 10 people walking,

“This is bittersweet,” said marcher Mark McCready of the sendoff.

“It's a sad situation when personal politics trumps tradition.”

At the end of the parade people gathered in Pope Marine Park for the second annual Cake Picnic where 4,000 pieces of cake were served.

________

Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or cbermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: May 17. 2014 9:51PM
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