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Monday, October 19, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Parade floats take home top Lilac Festival awards

UPDATED: Sun., May 19, 2019

The Tekoa float make its way along First Avenue during the Lilac Festival's 81st Armed Forces Torchlight ParadeMay 18, 2019, in downtown Spokane, Wash. The float was among many to take home awards this year. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
The Tekoa float make its way along First Avenue during the Lilac Festival's 81st Armed Forces Torchlight ParadeMay 18, 2019, in downtown Spokane, Wash. The float was among many to take home awards this year. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

Communities from across the region brought originality, sparkle and enthusiasm to the 2019 Armed Forces Torchlight Parade this year, with 19 floats.

Connell won took the Lilac Sweepstakes award with an East Asia-themed float. Connell’s Fall Festival royalty, wearing Mandarin collars, stood atop a garden with bright red buildings and Chinese lanterns.

Linda Hooten, the float-judging coordinator for the Lilac Parade, said floats are judged on their silhouette, side view, workmanship, animated parts or dancing, costumes and overall beauty. A panel of 12 judges decides who will win the sweepstakes award, and three judges decide each of the smaller awards: the queen’s award, princess’ award, the president’s award and the grand marshal’s award.

The Freeman schools’ float, the queen’s award winner, featured several elementary school children wearing whimsical, Mary Poppins-inspired outfits. Tekoa and Rosalia were second and third in the category, which honors floats from communities of between 100 and 1,000 people.

The float from Manson, Washington, which is on Lake Chelan, participates in the Armed Forces Torchlight Parade 2019 in Spokane. It won the Princess Award, given to a unit from a town of 1000 to 2000 people.
The float from Manson, Washington, which is on Lake Chelan, participates in the Armed Forces Torchlight Parade 2019 in Spokane. It won the Princess Award, given to a unit from a town of 1000 to 2000 people.

Manson’s float, which featured the town’s royalty wearing wings over their gowns and standing among toadstools and fairy houses, won the princess’ award, which is for communities of between 1,000 and 2,000 people. The float also included a unicorn. Ritzville and Davenport finished second and third out of the five entries in that category.

The president’s award, which goes to communities with between 2,000 and 12,000 people, went to Chewelah, whose royalty dressed as the four seasons, with flowers and ice decorating their float. Prosser came in second, Deer Park third out of six floats.

The float from Sunnyside, Washington in the Armed Forced Torchlight Parade 2019.
The float from Sunnyside, Washington in the Armed Forced Torchlight Parade 2019.

The grand marshal’s award, which goes to entries from communities of between 12,000 and 700,000 people, went to Sunnyside; its royalty wore sparkling red dresses, and the float featured flowers and a group of bears warming themselves beside a fake fire. Wenatchee came in second with its sparkling crystal- and silver-toned float, and Penticton, British Columbia, was third out of six entries.

The Lilac Association also honored six equestrian entrants, including the Walla Walla Fair and Frontier days royalty, the Pendleton Roundup’s royalty and the Happy Canyon’s royalty. The U.S. Border Patrol’s mounted patrol was recognized as the specialty entry, and the Newport Rodeo’s pooper scooper was also honored.

More than half of the 48 bands that entered the Lilac Parade received the Gold Standard Award. A band can receive an award if it meets a list of requirements in both marching and music. Judges look at a band’s quality of sound, rhythm, clarity and technique. They also take audience appeal into account.

Dave Weatherred, band chairman for the Lilac Parade, said usually only a third meet the gold standard and are awarded a medal, but this year, far more than usual met the requirements.

Hooten said entries in the parade this year ranged from marching bands to veterans groups and veterans, as well as rodeo and community royalty. She said there were fewer royalty float entries than previous years, possibly because building and transporting a float across the state is difficult and expensive for many of the small towns that used to send floats and royalty to the Lilac Festival.

While the parade had plenty of entries, Hooten said it was short on volunteers. She hopes more people will step up and get involved next year.

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