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Jim Kershner’s This day in history » On the Web: spokesman.com/topics/local-history

From our archives, 50 years ago

Spokane’s Lilac Festival-Armed Forces Parade was a massive draw on a spectacular 80-degree day in 1961.

The Spokane Daily Chronicle estimated that up to 125,000 people watched the parade. Some blocks on Riverside Avenue were jammed full an hour before the parade started.

The parade had 146 entries, including 56 floats, and lasted two hours and 40 minutes. Jet fighter planes from Geiger Field roared over the route.

The winning entry: A spectacular four-piece float from the Sacred Heart Hospital School of Nursing. Three women represented different ages of nursing. One was dressed in modern nursing uniform; one as a nurse from 75 years earlier; and one as an early nurse/nun.

Also riding the float were “three children of various races,” from the St. Joseph’s Orphanage.

This float won the grand sweepstakes.

Other winners in other divisions included the Snohomish County Save-A-Life float, the Deep Creek Air Force Station float and the Pacific National Exhibition float from Vancouver, B.C.

People took the “lilac” theme seriously.

The Chronicle noted that many women spectators “wore lilacs in their hair.”

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