The Daffodil Festival and Parade

The Daffodil Festival and Parade
Pierce County is one of the centers of the bulb growing industry in the U.S. state of Washington. Every year in April, it hosts the Daffodil Festival and Parade. Since its inception in 1934, the festival has become one of the region’s major tourist attractions.

The Puyallup River valley in Pierce County has rich glacial soil. It used to be a hops growing center, but when the hops industry in the region begin to decay, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommended to replace it with bulb growing because of the valley’s fertile soil and perfect climate. In 1925, several bulb fields sprung up in the valley. Tulips and daffodils became the best crops.

The Daffodil Festival began in 1926, when Mr. and Mrs. Charles W. Orton hosted a garden reception for civic leaders from 125 towns in Western Washington. The reception wash held during the blossom season, when the many varieties of daffodils were in full bloom. It was such as a success that it was decided to hold the event annually.

The parade section of the festival was established in 1934. Before that, the daffodil blooms had been used as fertilizer or simply thrown away after the festival. Tacoma photographer Lee Merrill suggested that the blooms be used instead as decorations for cars and bicycles in a festival parade.

The Daffodil Festival Parade has been held every year since its inception, with the exception of the years 1943–1945 during World War II. It is a truly unique event because instead of being held in just one city, the parade travels through Tacoma, Puyallup, Sumner and Orting in one day. These four cities are the main daffodil growing centers in the Puyallup River valley.

The Daffodil Festival has a year-long royalty program for 23 senior ladies from participating Pierce County High School. Throughout the year, the Princesses who make up the Daffodil Royal Court participate in activities designed to help them develop public speaking skills, gain self-confidence and learn invaluable lessons through interacting with the community.

The Daffodil Royal Court started out as a pageant for pretty girls participating in the Parade, but now it is a valuable program for young female ambassadors who are selected to represent their communities based on their academic success and leadership skills.

The Daffodil Festival

Photo: Jason Comerford



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