Spokane Lilac Festival takes to the streets for first-ever holiday parade

SPOKANE, Wash.– People lined the streets of downtown Spokane Saturday for the first-ever Lilac Festival holiday parade.

We know what you’re thinking– isn’t the parade usually in the spring? Yes, the Spokane Lilac Festival and Armed Forces Torchlight Parade are usually held the third week of May. Even though the parade typically takes place early in the year, organizers wanted to kick off the holiday season this year. The festivities were completely canceled last year and the year before, so event planners wanted to make sure it was all able to happen.

“This is really a kick-off to the great Christmas shopping season and bring everyone back together as a community and have a great time,” said President of the Lilac Festival Alan Hart.

Hart said seeing people out again and come together as a community was great, especially since they haven’t been able to do it in two years.

During the regular parade in May, there are usually around 200 groups participating. For the holiday parade, there were 44.

Regardless of how many people went or the timing of the parade, the message of it is still the same: bringing joy and honoring the military and veterans.

It’s something that’s important to Don Blanchard, as his son went to Afghanistan. Blanchard walked with the Washington State Fallen Heroes Project, which has a group of people walking down the parade holding a poster of their loved one they lost in the military.

“My son, we carry his poster. He was killed in 2013. So, we’d like to, everybody to see him so they know who he is,” Blanchard said.

To not have this parade for the last two years for some veterans, “it was kind of devastating,” said Precious with Combat Vet Riders.

To bring the parade back now, it means just a little bit more.

“This is awesome to be out here, to see people coming out again and actually coming together as a community,” Hart said. “We haven’t been able to do that for two years. This is just the great thing about being in Spokane.”

Kaity Wacker, who is Miss Deer Park, was in the parade and said she was glad to be a part of it.

“People love Christmas, and I think our float is pretty cool looking. It’s just a great opportunity to be a part of something that’s bigger than ourselves and also to celebrate our town,” Wacker said.

People who showed up to watch the parade agreed. They said it was nice to have a holiday parade in town.

The question on a lot of people’s minds is “will this be back next year?” The answer is: maybe.

Hart said it takes a lot of hours and work to put on an event like this. It’s also put on by volunteers. He said it really depends on if it’s something the community really wants.

 

MORE: Send us your photos from the Lilac Festival holiday parade

PREVIOUS: Your guide to the Spokane Lilac Festival’s holiday parade