Contributed photo by Karie Walchli
A little slice of Hermiston made its way into Portland’s Rose Festival over the weekend.
Hermiston was one of a handful of Oregon cities invited to add a mini-float representing their community to the Grand Floral Parade watched by hundreds of thousands of people in person and on television.
The rules of the parade dictate that every visible part of the floats must be made of organic material, providing a challenge for Hermiston’s committee of volunteer float-builders. After settling on a classic Hermiston watermelon slice for the design they used colored rice, moss, carnations, seeds, parsley, wheat and Kermit mums to cover the chicken wire and burlap frame.
Committee member Karie Walchli said a variety of Hermiston businesses donated materials and expertise for the project, which helped show off Hermiston’s watermelons and new city logo to the west side of the state.
“Portland gave the city of Hermiston’s watermelon float a warm welcome and were excited to know that melon season is just around the corner,” she wrote in an email.
Mayor David Drotzmann said during Monday’s city council meeting that when the float moved down the street, everyone “knew exactly who was coming” before it got close enough to read the Hermiston logo. He said he and the volunteer committee got together after work each week to glue grains of rice and other materials over every surface.
“I think they did a good job of representing our community,” he said. “It was a great experience.”
Drotzmann said officer Victor Gutierrez, who drove the float, had only a small slot to look out of, so Drotzmann wore a neon green shirt and walked right in front of him to lead the way through the parade route. Other committee members walked beside the float in Hermiston-themed T-shirts.
“It was very fun, very bright, very cheerful and very popular,” councilor Jackie Myers said.
The float will also appear in the Umatilla County Fair parade in August.
Contact Jade McDowell at email@example.com or 541-564-4536.