Health & Education

Tribe smelling the roses after sponsoring Grand Floral Parade

Spirit Mountain Casino's three-year commitment as Title Sponsor for the Rose Festival started with this year's events. Approved by Tribal Council last fall, the sponsorship is about two things, according to Tribal members involved.

The effort has always been about "giving back to the community," said Tribal member and casino Marketing Sponsorship Coordinator Jocelyn Huffman.

And it is again this year.

Speaking from the VIP Chalet where floats and parade people of every size, shape and color emerged from Memorial Coliseum on Saturday, June 11, Huffman also was listening to the loudspeakers. Float winners were being announced.

The Tribal entry won the President's Award for the "most effective overall floral presentation."

The sponsorship is also about telling the Grand Ronde story, said Tribal Council member and float designer Steve Bobb Sr.

"As a vehicle to let people know that this is the land of the Grand Ronde people," he said, "holy mackerel, over a three-year span, for the exposure we're getting, you couldn't touch it (with any other investment)."

Although Spirit Mountain Casino has co-sponsored the event for the last dozen years, the casino is Title Sponsor this year for the first time, said Huffman. In addition, the marketing effort this year also brought Spirit Mountain Community Fund and Tribal government before the public eye.

With logo inclusion, public affairs announcements and video footage of the Rose Festival Court visiting the Tribal plankhouse and Tribal offices, along with notes in the event program, the Grand Ronde Tribe told the Tribal story of ceded homelands and local generosity in many ways.

Spirit Mountain Community Fund took off with a Key Bank inspired "Pledge to be positive campaign" by contributing $1,000 grants, $8,000 total, to each of following Portland Sister City associations: Portland-Ashkelon Sister City Association (Israel), Portland-Bologna Sister City Association (Italy), Portland Guadalajara Sister City Association (Mexico), Portland-Kaohsiung Sister City Association (Taiwan), Portland Khabarovsk Sister City Association (Russia), Portland-Mutare Sister City Association (Zimbabwe), Portland-Sapporo Sister City Association (Japan) and Portland-Suzhou Sister City Association (China).

The Community Fund also made $3,000 grants to the Vietnamese Community of Oregon, Portland Parks Foundation, Portland Police Foundation and Columbia River Peace Corps Association.

The parade's theme, Carnival of Roses, was reflected in the Spirit Mountain float, Run Free in the Homelands, that portrayed horses in full gallop, escaping the carousel and a bed or roses as they ran free in the Tribe's aboriginal homelands.

Rose Festival Sponsorship Manager Christie Wong called Spirit Mountain Casino "an awesome partner" and added that the sponsorship "makes perfect sense" for both sides.

Bobb came with his wife, Connie, and for the first time this year Tribal member Cory Bobb, their son, came with his wife, Jennifer, daughter, Tribal member Keira, and son, Tribal member Logan Bobb.

"I wanted to come out and support my dad," said Cory. "He designed the float for the last couple of years, but this is the first time I could come. I know these floats mean a lot to him."

Another first-timer at the event was Tribal member Tracy Howerton, who came with his wife, Jerri, and children, Tribal member Justin, 12, and Sydney, 9.

"I work for Spirit Mountain Casino and we came out to support the event," he said.

Tribal member Deitz Peters and his wife, Rose, came out in force -- 10 family members altogether - as they do for the Grand Floral Parade every year. Rose also worked on the float in the weeks leading up to the parade, as she always does. For the Peters family, the parade is the centerpiece for a weekend together in Portland.

"We make it a family event," said Rose.

Also helping with the float were Tribal Elders Kathryn Harrison, Linda Schmidt, Laura Lund and her husband, Tribal spouse Dennis, Janet Billey, Alton Butler and Steve Bobb Sr.

The $4 million Rose Festival production included four and a half weeks of activities and nearly a year of preparation time for some 50 sponsors that support the many events, according to Jeff Curtis, Rose Festival chief executive officer.

The return for the city of Portland over those four-plus weeks is some $50 million, he said. Twelve staffers, 65 board members and 3,000 volunteers made Portland's great summer tourist attraction happen this year.

This year's parade, with its 104-year tradition, included many new wrinkles.

"Our challenge is to take the traditions and innovate," said Curtis.

This year's innovations included a new mascot, the Clown Prince, and Cityfair, which transformed the Portland waterfront. The new RoZone, suddenly Portland's largest outdoor entertainment venue, was a showcase for bands national and local. Back by popular demand, the Pacific Northwest Barbecue Championships filled out three weekends of jam-packed events.

On Saturday, June 4, Grand Ronde Royalty rode in the PGE/SOLV Starlight Parade.

A knighting ceremony on Friday, June 10, made three Tribal representatives Knights of the Royal Rosarians. Tribal Council Chairwoman Cheryle A. Kennedy, Tribal Council member Steve Bobb Sr. and Spirit Mountain Casino Chief Executive Officer Rodney Ferguson were knighted in the amphitheater of the Washington Park Rose Garden near downtown Portland.

Cheryle and Vernon Kennedy, Tribal Council member Toby McClary and Sandy Bobb, and Rodney and Doreen Ferguson all made the scene of the Grand Floral Parade.