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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

Lilac procession draws droves

More than 150,000 spectators gather for tradition of floats and food

Mary Hall claimed her spot for the 71st annual Spokane Lilac Parade on Saturday afternoon so her grandchildren would have a front-row seat.

But grandma and the kids got more than one parade. Hall had stationed her family in front of the Sterling Savings Bank on Riverside Avenue, where a mother duck and her ducklings leapt from an awning and marched off to the river.

“I had no idea the duck was there,” Hall said. It was a nice surprise, she said.

Hall has been a fan of the Spokane Lilac Festival Armed Forces Torchlight Parade for most of her adult life, she said. The Spokane woman used to bring her daughters, and now it’s her two daughters and their families.

Hall exemplifies the event’s theme, “I love a parade.” The more than 150,000 other spectators – according to organizers – who joined her in downtown Spokane on Saturday apparently feel the same way.

Hundreds had plopped down their folding chairs or blankets to save their spots long before the parade’s 7:45 p.m. start. Vendors rolled through offering parade souvenirs, hot dogs and popcorn. Children frolicked in the blocked-off streets, drawing chalk drawings and chasing one another in circles.

But all were at attention as the 206 floats, cars and marching bands paraded through the downtown streets.

“The royalty is my favorite,” Carrie Hoogstad said. The parade is a tradition for the whole family, the Spokane woman said. “I’ve been bringing my daughter her whole life.”

The Hoogstads and their friends, the Cooks, make a tailgating party out of the event. Each family backs a truck into the parking lot at Stevens Street and Main Avenue on Friday to guarantee a spot. On Saturday, they grill up some food and watch the parade from the backs of their pickups.

Carrie Hoogstad’s daughter, 14-year-old Korbie, says she most enjoys watching the the high school color guards.

For Mike Hurley, it’s not just the marching bands he looks forward to.

“It’s the first warm-weather event of the year,” Hurley said. “It’s a great community event.”

Dale Morris had missed the last 28 Lilac Festival parades. But this year, he wanted to see it with his grandchildren.

“Parades are family time,” he said.

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