Instead of gathering along city sidewalks to watch the annual Valleyfest Parade, residents of Spokane Valley will be able to turn their own porches into floats and attractions and Valleyfest will come to them this September.
Valleyfest Executive Director Peggy Doering said organizers have had to constantly adapt to the evolving COVID-19 restrictions and the 31st iteration of the annual festival will be different from what locals remember.
She said organizers were inspired by the Portland Rose Festival this spring, which created a “parade in place” event where neighborhoods decorated their porches and spruced up their front yard gardens and were placed on a map so the community could drive to neighborhoods and view the porches.
“The best way to think of all of these activities is that the festival will be at your home,” Doering said.
She said in addition to the map, which would be public, a procession that includes the Valleyfest Royal Court would follow the route and throw candy at participating porches. This event would be the Valleyfest Court’s debut. Queen Hayli Sanders and princesses Amy Brown, Hanna Michaelis, Joelle Larson and Kennedie Krieger have not had the chance to attend any events.
Instead of taking place over multiple days, almost all events will occur on Sept. 26.
The porch parade is one of several ideas Doering and other organizers are developing to turn Valleyfest into a virtual event. They plan to borrow another idea from Portland, inviting families to make miniature shoe box floats, which they would photograph and send to Valleyfest organizers. Their miniature floats would be included in a “video parade.” She said she was also considering a virtual “vendor village” to allow those who would have had booths at the festival access attendees, a sports day to encourage the community to do sports on their own and possibly a drive-in movie.
Marilyn Clint, CEO of the Rose Parade, said about 400 people participated in the porch parade in Portland and there were about 80,000 views on the map the festival staff created for the parade in place event.
“It totally exceeded my expectations for community engagement,” she said.
Portland porch parade participants mostly shared examples of their floats on Instagram using variations of the hashtag #porchparade or #paradeinplace. Clint said participants made zoo- and animal-themed porches. Some focused on the theme of the event, roses, but many went far beyond with one neighborhood teaming up to turn the entire area into a float, with each resident adopting a local business, such as a theater or book store, and decorating their porches to celebrate them.
She said other organizations in Portland, such as a cemetery also found creative ways to get involved. Many prominent community members who were pivotal in the Rose Parade’s history, or the city’s history, were buried at the cemetery and their graves were decorated and shared information about them was shared for visitors.
Kathy Hansen, Valleyfest Parade Chair, said she anticipates Spokane Valley’s porch parade would function in a similar way, with people signing up to have their porch included in the official map, picking a theme and receiving a sign noting they are on the official route.
She said the parade committee came up with several ideas for themes, including honoring first responders, harvest and people with “hearts of gold,” which is the theme of Valleyfest every year.
She said people could make up their own themes, as long as they are not a political campaign or some form of commercial advertising.
Hansen said she hopes the miniature parade and the parade in place event will give people something to look forward to, and an activity for families to do together.
“Our main objective is to provide some hope and some unity within our community,” she said.
This story was clarified on August 14 to reflect that a typical Valleyfest parade does not take place downtown.
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