Saturday, June 17, 2006

the rose festival

A much anticipated event here in town is the annual Rose Festival, which consists of a few weeks of celebrations, parades, corporate endorsements, and is attended by a large number of military personell. The fleet comes in, and this seems to be a big draw. People walk around for days saying "Is it fleet week? Are the ships in?" And of course, where there's a sharp increase of military personell with free time, there's a much more visible prostitute element. Another huge draw of the Rose Festival is the 2 week sleazy carnival that sets up along the waterfront. The overpriced, ricktey rides operated by the toothless, goulish meth addicts is more excitement then I can handle. I looked up "Rose Festival" on Wikpedia, and this is what they had to say:

(I added my own comments in red).

Portland Rose Festival

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Portland Rose Festival is an annual civic festival held during the month of June in Portland, Oregon. It is organized by the volunteer non-profit Portland Rose Festival Association with the purpose of promoting the Portland region.

The idea for the Rose Festival was presented to the public in a speech by Mayor Harry Lane at the end of the 1905 World's Fair. The first festival occurred in 1907.

The Grand Floral Parade is the centerpiece of the festival and the second largest all-floral parade in the United States. More than 500,000 spectators line the route, making it the largest spectator event in Oregon. There is a running joke about people who tape off their spots along the parade route, and those who set tents up and camp out for days ahead of time. I think people get out there as early as a week prior to the parade. There's also all kinds of drama ensuing from people stealing each other's spots. It's chaos, and I'm proud to say I haven't seen one parade.

Since 1930 a queen has been selected from a court of high school seniors from each school in the area. A college scholarship is awarded to a 13 member "royalty". Publically reinforcing the ideal that teenage girls have to be pretty, therefore increasing each girl's insecurity, and probably the catalyst for eating disorders. These Rose Princesses compete in a strange kind of beauty pagent for the title of Rose Queen.

The 2006 Rose Festival Fleet

The 2006 Rose Festival Fleet

During Fleet Week, boats from United States Navy, Coast Guard, Army Corps of Engineers and the Royal Canadian Navy dock along the seawall of Tom McCall Waterfront Park. One heck of a lot of sailors. Everywhere.

The festival also hosts a CHAMP Car race at Portland International Speedway, wanna be NASCAR, complete with rednecks, dragonboat races, a fireworks display, carnival rides, among other events.

So I guess as a tradition, the Rose Princesses do all sorts of volunteer things, and make visitations to people and places the month prior to the crowing of the queen. One of their stops is my work, which employs a variety of people with disabilities working in one place. This year everyone was asked if they could come to the cafeteria for the presentation, and we shut the operation down for the 20 minutes this event took.

The princesses came in, lined up and recited a rehearsed skit. They each took turnes telling us about themselves, described the events and simeotaneously worked product endorsements into the presentation. Even their outfits were put together by Target, Fred Meyers, and some jewelry store.

And here we all are, watching. The people in the front row were especially pleased. One guy kept jockeying for the seat with the best view, and at times forcibly removed or coerced someone from their seat.

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