Let the Craziness Begin!

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This weekend marks the pinnacle of the Rose Festival in Portland.  The Grand Floral Parade happens Saturday which means the week will be building to it.

How? You may ask.
Or you may not be asking – doesn’t matter, you will be hearing about it anyway! 🙂

First, we have the arrival of the Navy and Coast Guard ships into downtown.  Despite Portland’s location on the Columbia River, Portland is a very active shipping port.  The Naval ships will be arriving to tie up along the river front.  The Seamen will spill into the streets…in more ways than one.  They will hold tours after you submit to a body cavity search (post-9/11 precaution, you know).  And, generally, fun will be had by all.  Oh, and if you are riding on the river in a boat, be prepared to be boarded or shot.  They can’t be too cautious.

Anyway, this means all of the lifting bridges will be lifted many, MANY times as they arrive.  There are 10 bridges downtown and leading into downtown – 6 lift.

Will the ships arrive during the night?  Hell no!  We have to celebrate their arrival which means they will arrive ….. during rush hour.

Will they arrive together? Hell no again!  They will arrive as they arrive.  Which means, you can’t plan around it.

So while people are trying to go home from their jobs downtown or to their homes downtown, the bridges will be lifting.  This means more people on the non-lifting bridges.  My commute will suck in new and exciting ways.  I expect my commute home to take at least an hour if not longer.  My bets are on the longer.  Non-freeway commuters fuck with traffic because freeways are scary.  If you commute via freeway in a city, you know you cannot be timid or cautious while driving.  Throw in a bunch of timid and cautious drivers and your commute sucks in new and exciting ways.

After the ships arrive, the parade craziness will begin.

They shut down the parade route at 9 am Saturday morning.  In years past, it was pretty traditional that people would show up Friday along the parade route and mark spots for themselves.  And the spot marking was honored, believe it or not.  I found this honor among parade goers to be pretty amazing given there are around 600,000 people in the city itself.  (This does not count the burbs.)  So for the citizens to generally start behaving as though they are in a small town is pretty neat.

But that was but to an end last year.  People  complained they couldn’t just show up before the parade and find a place to sit.  Do I really need to point out the lunacy of that complaint?  I mean, first off, how are they showing up last minute and expecting places along the parade route?  They close the route four hours in advance of the parade.  The parade twists and turns through downtown which means you can’t get anywhere downtown via car or even public transportation.  And, what do they expect to happen when people get there before they do?  Because of this, they started threatening last year to fine anyone saving spots along the parade route.  The only acceptable way is to actually personally occupy the spot.

No problem!  Garbanzo loves sleeping out overnight for the spots.  He does it every year.  He arranges for a steady stream of friends to show up throughout the night.  They (illegally) drink beer on the street and play poker.  He also usually befriends 90% of the other people in the surrounding blocks during this time.  When I arrive in the morning with the kids, he is on a first name basis with all of them, knows their kids and grandkids by name thanks to the pictures he’s seen of them, and has been brought coffee by most of the women who stayed out with their spouses (or arrived earlier than I did.)

All of our friends with kids show up soon after.  Everyone brings coffee and food.  A couple of us usually walk up to the farmer’s market where we bring back strawberries (if we’re lucky) and baked goods.  The kids play in the street – the first time they can do it without getting yelled at.  All in all, it makes for an amazing morning.

Then we all get sunburned while watching the parade because we are Oregonians and forget that the sun can actually burn your skin.  Damn rain!  (And no, I won’t be making that mistake again.  My legs are still peeling from the last burn several weeks ago!)

After the parade, we go home and sleep.  After, of course, we fight our way back home.

Then, early Monday morning, the Naval ships leave.  And, if you are up lucky enough, you can see the string of women lined up crying as they wave goodbye to the sailors they hooked up with over the weekend.

Good times!

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