Portland prides itself on being the City of Roses. Upon observing the several massive, rose filled gardens within our city’s limits, it’s a claim not too difficult to buy into. It is “THE City of Roses”. Fine. Got it. However, something that should not be bought into under any circumstances is the city’s annual flora-inspired festival-o-suck, the Portland Rose Festival (the week and half each year when Portlanders find other things to do while Gresham and Hillsboro* invade the city proper). While there are dozens of actual events associated with the festival, these three are particularly suck-worthy.
1. The Portland Rose Festival Court. This is a tradition wherein area female high school seniors are sent into a poufy sequin dress/hairspray induced tizzy. In front of each school’s general population, a single Princess is plucked, eventually comprising an entire Rose Festival Court. One of those tizzied out Princess’s will then be named (crown, sash & all) Queen of Rose Festival. Wait, WHAT?! For the progressive town that Portland claims to be, this sounds like a ritual that should have been retired in 1956, left in apt hands of the “Don’t Mess with Texas” crowd, or turned over to Tyra Banks for her next venture into reality television (“12 of you will compete to be The Next Top Festival Queen”).
2. The Portland Rose Festival Parade. Here’s the gist for those who haven’t had the pleasure: floats, flowers, families from suburbia, over-priced crap, horse crap, people who pick up the horse crap, people who annoy you, and usually rain. The parade jams up traffic on both sides of the river all Sunday morning. God forbid you manage to emerge from your hangover early enough to seek a greasy breakfast/bloody mary on that forsaken Sunday, and are held up because of a parade-related traffic blockage.
3. Finally, the last bit warranting caution: the Portland Rose Festival Waterfront Village. Don’t let the name fool you. “Fun” it is not. Bring back the Gresham/Hillsboro crowd, throw in some shoddy carnival rides, carnies (naturally) and overpriced corn dogs. Now, spread them over the length of Waterfront Park, where they are to remain for the entire week and half, trampling all of the grass which tax-paying Portland residents then pay to re-seed. Seriously, who approves that budget expenditure?
Now if all that sounds about as awesome as a kick in the head, you’ll be well served to crawl into a dark hole in late May until about a week or so into June. Be forewarned though – when you re-emerge, what you smell won’t be roses. It’ll be hairspray, horse crap and corn dogs.
*People in Portland generally think that Gresham and Hillsboro suck