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Parade floats take home top Lilac Festival awards

Rebecca WhiteMay 19, 2019

Communities from across the region brought originality, sparkle and enthusiasm to the 2019 Armed Forces Torchlight Parade this year, with 19 different floats.

Connell won took the Lilac Sweepstakes award with an East Asia-themed float. Connell’s Fall Festival royalty, wearing Mandarin collars, stood atop a garden with bright red buildings and Chinese lanterns.

Linda Hooten, the float-judging coordinator for the Lilac Parade, said floats are judged on their sillouette, sideview, workmanship, animated parts or dancing, costumes, and overall beauty. A panel of 12 judges decides who will win the sweepstakes award, and three judges decide each of the smaller awards, the queen’s award, princess’ award, the president’s award and the grand marshal’s award.

The Freeman School’s float, the queen’s award winner, featured several elementary school children wearing whimsical, Mary Poppins-inspired outfits. Tekoa and Rosalia were second and third place in the category, which honors floats from communities of between 100 and 1,000 people.

Manson’s float, which featured the town’s royalty wearing wings over their gowns and standing among toadstools and fairy houses, won the princess’ award, which is for communities of between 1,000 and 2,000 people. The float also included a unicorn. Ritzville and Davenport received second and third place out of the five entries in that category.

The president’s award, which goes to communities with between 2,000 and 12,000 people, went to Chewelah. Chewelah’s royalty dressed as the four seasons, with flowers and ice decorating their float. Prosser came in second and Deer Park came in third out of six floats.

The grand marshal’s award, which goes to entries from communities of between 12,000 and 700,000 people, went to Sunnyside. Sunnyside’s royalty wore red sparkling dresses and their float featured flowers and a group of bears warming themselves beside a fake fire. Wenatchee came in second with its sparkling crystal- and silver-toned float and Penticton, B.C., came in third out of six entries.

The Lilac Association also honored six equestrian entrants, including the Walla Walla Fair and Frontier days royalty, the Pendleton Roundup’s royalty and the Happy Canyon’s royalty. The U.S. Border Patrol’s mounted patrol was recognized as the specialty entry and the Newport Rodeo’s pooper scooper was also honored.

More than half of the 48 bands that entered the Lilac Parade received the Gold Standard Award. A band can receive an award if it meets a list of requirements in both marching and music. Judges look at a band’s quality of sound, rhythm, clarity and technique. They also look at audience appeal.

Dave Weatherred, the band chairman for the Lilac Parade, said usually only a third meet the gold standard and are awarded a medal, but this year far more than usual met the requirements.

Hooten said there were entries in the parade this year ranging from marching bands, veterans groups and veterans, as well as rodeo and community royalty. She said there were fewer royalty float entries than previous years, possibly because building, and transporting a float across the state is difficult and expensive for many of the small towns that used to send floats and royalty to the Lilac Festival.

While the parade had plenty of entries, Hooten said it was short on volunteers and she hopes more people will step up and get involved next year.

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