2006 Rhododendron Festival swings into full gear this weekend

PORT TOWNSEND — Catch serious bed racing tonight, a good old-fashioned parade Saturday, a Rhody Run on Sunday and all the colorful festivities in between during the 71st annual Rhododendron Festival.

The event, with a theme this year of “A Time to Play,” is dedicated to the official state flower that blooms into spectacular colors this time of year.

More than 100 Grand Parade entries are expected to march, cruise, walk or float through Port Townsend’s downtown and uptown districts.

It will be led by this year’s Rhody Fest royalty, Queen Elizabeth Hodgson and Princesses Stephani Nickasio, Kellie Montgomery and Alisha Parker.

The royalty receive scholarship funds and make appearances at festivals and parades around the state in the coming year.

The float on which they will ride won the Mayor’s Award last weekend at the Sequim Irrigation Festival Grand Parade.

Parade starts 1 p.m.

The parade kicks off at 1 p.m. Saturday and includes high school marching bands from all over the North Olympic Peninsula and state.

Senior Royalty riding in the parade will be Raleigh and Lois Haynes, representing the Tri-Area, and Bob and Marge Helander, representing Port Townsend.

But before the parade steps off, there are other fun activities connected with the festival.

Today’s events include the Rhododendron Flower Show at 3 p.m. at Fort Worden Chapel, and the Kiddies Parade at 3:30 p.m. on Monroe Street near the new skateboard park.

Frivolity and frolic will be the order of the Bed Races, beginning at 6:30 p.m. today on Washington Street at Adams Street downtown.

At 11 a.m. Sunday, runners and walkers will participate in the annual Rhody Run at Fort Worden State Park. Registration opens at 9 a.m.

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