According to the Daffodil Festival’s history for Puyallup, Washington, in 1934, Lee Merrill, first secretary of the founding group and well known Tacoma photographer, suggested that the daffodil blooms, which at that time were thrown away or used as fertilizer, be used instead as decorations for a Festival Parade. Cars and bicycles were decorated with daffodils, and together paraded through our city and neighboring Valley towns. The idea grew and presently the Grand Floral Street Parade travels through: Tacoma, Puyallup, Sumner, and Orting on Parade Day. In 2012 the Daffodil Festival will be 79 years old, and there has been a parade every year since 1934, with the exception of the war years of 1943, 1944, and 1945.Our Pierce County Community has, for 77 years, viewed the Daffodil Festival as the premier headline event, second only to the Western Washington Fair. The Daffodil Festival is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dating back to January 1967.
Susan McGuire, President of the Daffodil Festival since October 2011, has worked for the festival since 1998. She shared what she thinks of the organization, “I feel it’s a very worthwhile organization and a lot of people think of the parade. Yes, we put on a parade, but we also have a Royalty Program that is responsible for a lot of scholarships for young ladies. We travel throughout the Pacific Northwest with a travel float and represent Pierce County in other festivals just like our own. By resolution, as royalty, we’re recognized as ambassadors of Pierce County.” Susan discussed the best thing about the Daffodil Festival, “The opportunities that we provide to the Royal Court and the opportunity to serve our communities. The Royal Court will be interacting with young children; with the Boys and Girls Club, help kids with homework, tomorrow they will be going to Pierce County and the Puyallup public library to read to the kids. On Monday, they’re going to World Vision for a tour of World Vision and one of World Vision’s warehouses and working. We feel it’s very important for the Royal Court to give back to their community. We have young women selected by their schools to represent Daffodil Princesses.”
The last weekend in February, the Daffodil Festival sponsored a two-day event in which they introduced the Royal Court to the public and had posters to sign for children, craft projects, and reading for the kids at the South Hill Mall in Puyallup. Susan commented, “A good way to interact with kids. We had wrist bands as a fundraiser to have the public meet the young women that are of the Royal Court. I think it went very well. We gave out close to 1500 posters/autographs. We did lots of different craft projects. It was a great way for them to interact. This is our third year doing this event.”
Susan revealed what many people do not know about the Daffodil Festival, “That we are more than a parade. We are an organization year round and the new princesses are selected in October and November to participate in the following year’s festival. The princesses are picked by each school with a different method and they follow our criteria, such as GPA, and that they have to be senior high school girls. Once they become part of the Royal Court, they become eligible for the scholarship.”
Susan discussed how the Daffodil Festival is unique compared to other nonprofit organizations, “The fact that we have the Royal Court and scholarship program, only 2 paid employees, the rest are volunteers. We also go to 25 out of town festivals representing Pierce County.”
The Mission of the Daffodil Festival: “Dedicated to provide Pierce County with leadership training, educational opportunities, community service… and four fantastic parades.” When asked if she believed the Daffodil Festival was fulfilling its mission statement, Susan replied, “I think we are. Our mission is community at its best. And we try very hard to present ourselves and the Royal Court as part of the community at its best by giving our opportunities to them to serve.”
The Daffodil Festival held an event on Saturday, March 10, 2012 at Laurel Creek Manor in Sumner, Washington. The Daffodil Festival Princess Tea event was a great opportunity for moms, grandmothers, and their little girls to get to know the 2012 Daffodil Festival’s Royal Court. When asked what Susan had most looked forward to before the event, she replied, “It’s just a fun event. Each little girl gets a genuine rhinestone tiara presented by a member of the Royal Court and a packet of princess cards (like baseball cards) with each of the princesses face on them. They are autographed by the princesses. There is a biography of each of the princesses on each of the cards such as where they go to school, where they plan to go to college, and encourage the girls.”
On Friday, March 16, 2012, there was a Tea and Coronation for the Queen (in which one of the young ladies will be selected and crowned as Queen) at the Life Center in Tacoma. For more information about the Daffodil Festival Organization, please visit: www.DaffodilFestival.net.
By: Carly Calabrese, staff for Tacoma.com