Spirit Mountain Casino float ready to bloom

By Dean Rhodes

Smoke Signals editor

Tribal Elder Steve Bobb Sr. credits his design for this year’s Spirit Mountain Casino float that will roll through Portland as part of the Saturday, June, 6, Grand Floral Parade to his wife, Connie.

After receiving the parade’s theme in November, “Bloomin’ Roses,” Steve says he was stumped on a design that would represent the theme and the Grand Ronde Tribe, as well as remain within budget.

“That’s pretty vague and pretty broad,” Steve says.

That’s when Connie suggested a baby coming out of a rosebud, and Steve, inspired by her suggestion, came up with a float design that is a progression of increasingly older Tribal youths surrounded by an increasingly blooming rose.

The first rose features Spirit Mountain Casino Sponsorship Administrator Jocelyn Huffman’s daughter, Shelby, as the infant model. In the second phase, Steve used his granddaughter, 9-year-old Keira, as the model and 21-year-old Gabrielle Colton, daughter of Carol Colton and granddaughter of Jo Ann and Mike Comeaux, was the eldest model surrounded by a fully blossomed rose.

The float’s title is “Bloomin’ the Beauty Within” and Bette Midler’s version of “The Rose” from her 1979 film will play on the speakers.

To keep the design within budget, some compromises were made with Steve’s original concept. The roses being used are Nootka roses native to Oregon that have fewer petals, meaning less fabrication materials and man hours.

Steve has designed seven consecutive Spirit Mountain Casino floats for the parade. He received the festival theme in November.

This is Spirit Mountain Casino’s fifth year as title sponsor, signing its second three-year contract in 2014, which will give the casino six straight years as title sponsor.

The casino pays a sponsorship fee and Steve says that the teaching opportunity and recognition the sponsorship brings to the Tribe and Tribal people makes the money well worth spending.

“The exposure we get from this event and being the title sponsor with the advertising we get … if we had to buy that type of advertising, it would be pretty darn spendy,” Steve says.

Huffman says that the advertising ranges beyond newspapers, including TV, print, radio and static signage, activation and public relations events.

“While the Grand Floral Parade is a one-day event, it is a three-week festival,” Huffman says. “There are also yearlong planning sessions and specific events scattered throughout the year that the casino is involved with.”

As is usual, Tribal Elders and casino employees are scheduled to travel to Portland on Wednesday and Thursday, June 3 and 4, to put the finishing touches on the casino float. Float judging day is Friday, June 5.

Because Spirit Mountain Casino is title sponsor, the float will be the first to emerge from the back door of the Portland Coliseum at the start of the parade. It then travels down Weidler Street to Martin Luther King Boulevard and across the Burnside Bridge into downtown Portland, ending at Lincoln High School.