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Parade-goers enjoy the view

From pickup tailgates and fathers’ shoulders, crowds take in splendor of annual military tribute

There aren’t a lot of bad seats at the Lilac parade, but some are better than others.

Like thousands who lined sidewalks in three-deep rows, 5-year-old Levi Knight of Spokane watched the parade from a lawn chair on the curb.

He got into the spirit of the Lilac Festival Armed Forces Torchlight Parade with a camouflage shirt and a green World War II-style helmet.

“He’s into Army right now,” mother Naomi Knight said.

Wyatt Maynard, 2, and his teddy bear backpack also had a good seat on father Mike Maynard’s shoulders.

“If he behaves himself, he can stay up there for a while,” Mike Maynard said.

Mea Sedano, 5, of Spokane had a similar perch on father Don Sedano’s shoulders, with the added advantage that he pumped her arms and clapped her hands for her.

And there was a lot of clapping.

People stood, clapped and cheered for trucks carrying former prisoners of war and veterans of World War II and the wars in Korea and Vietnam among other military units in the parade.

The Lilac Festival’s “Freedom Is Not Free” float, with a bald eagle flying over the royal court, and other colorful civilian entries also drew cheers from the rows of lawn chairs.

But Spokane resident Angelo Santiago knew he had the best seat in the house, atop a railroad berm at the southeast corner of First Avenue and Washington Street, where the parade made its first turn.

“This is the perfect spot right here,” he said as he grilled steaks in front of his pickup. “This is why I love Spokane. It’s just very family-oriented.”

Santiago said he parked his pickup in the parking lot atop the berm at 8 a.m. to secure the spot. With its bed facing the parade, the truck provided seating for Santiago and his two children and a couple of nephews.

Willard and Tammie Spottedblanket of Worley, Idaho, watched the parade from the bed of their pickup next to Santiago’s while one of their children, 5-year-old Tomarra, lounged on a seat removed from the family’s van.

With three children of their own, their dog Buggsy and several members of their extended family, the Spottedblankets needed two vehicles.

“We do the all-day thing,” Willard Spottedblanket said. “We come to have fun.”

They toured the town and took in the vintage car show and other events before settling in for the parade.

Below them, the berm formed a convex amphitheater that was covered with rows of people. And at the bottom, supporters of Initiative 1068 collected signatures for the legalization of marijuana.

The parade crowd wasn’t as enthusiastic as bar patrons, where 75 to 80 percent typically sign, according to Shayna Nichols, the initiative’s Spokane County coordinator.

Still, she and Mitchell Moczulski said they gathered about 100 signatures in an hour and a half.

“Yes, absolutely,” they also enjoyed the parade, Moczulski said. “I’m definitely proud to be a Spokanite.”

Vendors also did well.

Wallace Stickelmeyer estimated he’d sold about 250 pizza slices before the parade started. But business fell off when people turned their attention to floats and marching bands.

As dusk fell, though, with a sliver of moon and Venus sparkling over the parade, it was Joseph Moisan’s turn to shine. He was selling lightsabers at $7 a pop – “except for one dead one.”

Judging results


  • Community Sweepstakes - Sunnyside
  • Queen’s Award - 1. Freeman; 2. Odessa; 3. Tekoa
  • Princess Award - 1. Ritzville; 2. Davenport; 3. Wilbur
  • President’s Award - 1. Chewelah; 2. Prosser; 3. Leavenworth (Autumn Leaf)
  • Grand Marshal’s Award - 1. Westminster Hyack, B.C.; 2. Olympia-Capital Lake Fair; 3. Puyallup-Daffodil

Equestrian winners

  • Royalty - Ritzville Rodeo Association Royalty
  • Specialty Units (Novelty/Costume) - Northwest Aside Sidesaddle Group
  • Specialty Units (Mounted) - Blue Mountain Riders of Walla Walla
  • Units Representing Rodeos/Festivals/ Communities (other than Royalty) - Ellensburg Rodeo Posse
  • Evelyn Jones Memorial “Best Equestrian” Award - Idaho State O-Mok-See Royalty Court
  • Pooper Scooper - Idaho State O-Mok-See Royalty Court

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