Port Townsend: Red, white and Rhody

Flags and flowers were the hallmark of Port Townsend’s 67th Rhododendron Festival Grand Parade on sunbathed streets Saturday.

The clouds parted five minutes before police cars and fire engines with sirens blaring marked the beginning of the parade, which started at the uptown fire station on Lawrence Street before meandering its way downtown.

The parade was led by color guards from the U.S. Navy and American Legion and an Reserve Officer Training Corps drill unit twirling rifles. Four vehicles carried the parade’s grand marshals, veterans and staff from the three eras of Fort Worden, which is celebrating its centennial.

The Bremerton High School Marching Band wore flags on their white cowboy hats and played “America.”

The Kamiak Show Band from Mukilteo, with rhododendron blooms tucked in the horns of its brass section, played a medley of patriotic music.


The Interlake High School Marching Band also decorated their horns with rhododendrons, and members of the Port Angeles High School Dance Team performed with yellow rhododendrons in their hair.

American flags flew from the cars of the Rainier Classic Chevy Club, the Kitsap Mustang Club and the Classical Gas Corvette Club.

The Safeway mini-car, with Paula MacDonald at the wheel, pulled a mini-trailer with a dozen American flags flying.

A giant mosaic of the stars and stripes made from squashed pop cans adorned the back of the Skookum Education Services truck.

The patriotic theme even extended to street vendors selling American flags, red licorice ropes and blue cotton candy.

The Sequim Irrigation Festival’s “Banana Belt” float took the Grand Sweepstakes Award, while the West Seattle Hi-Yu festival float, “Fun in the Sun,” won the Mayor’s Award

Mayor Kees Kolff, an avid cyclist, rode his bicycle with a sign advertising free helmets for kids at the police station. A group of bicyclists joined Kolff at Polk Street and rode the rest of the route with him.

Newlyweds in parade

Newlyweds Jeff and Shelley Randall rode in the parade following their wedding Saturday morning.

The Queen’s Award went to Port Orchard’s float, “Fathoms of Fun,” which featured a castle and butterflies.

Abraham Lincoln rode behind the Jefferson County Republican Party truck featuring stuffed elephant.

Democrats carried signs with flags, and 4-H members in Uncle Sam hats passed out flag pins alongside a truck advertising Jefferson County’s “Star-Spangled Fair” in August.

The Rhododendron Festival continues at 9 a.m. today with the 12K Rhody Run at Fort Worden.

The Rhody Flower Show, also at the fort, runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The Rhody Open Golf Course event at the city course also continues.

Meanwhile, Fort Worden’s centennial celebration continues today with tours of the state park.

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