Grand Floral Parade: Dust masks, weather factoids and other fun trivia

PORTLAND, Ore. - Heavy metal band Iron Maiden released their first album, actor Ronald Reagan was elected president and a new arcade game called Pac Man became an instant hit.

The year was 1980 - the same year that singer John Lennon was assassinated, news giant CNN made its debut and Mount St. Helens erupted here in the Pacific Northwest.

When the mountain blew its top, ash went everywhere, which leads us to this additional bit of 1980 trivia - did you know that folks watching the Grand Floral Parade that year wore masks?

You see, it had only been a few weeks since the eruption and many spectators wore dust masks so they could breathe easier. And before the parade even started, crews had to wash down the city streets to clear as much of the ash as they could.

That's just one of the interesting Grand Floral Parade facts highlighted in the National Weather Service's compilation of historical data for the annual Rose Festival event. There are more.

For instance, did you know that in 1918 we didn't have a Grand Floral Parade? It got canceled due to World War I. The same thing happened in 1942 during World War II. There was also no parade in 1926 when the Multnomah Stadium (later known as Civic Stadium, Portland General Electric (PGE) Park, and Jeld-Wen Field) was being rebuilt.

And then there are the fun weather facts:

  • The warmest parade day was on June 15, 1963 - afternoon high of 93.

  • The coolest parade day was on June 12, 1943 - afternoon high of 55.

  • The wettest parade was on June 12, 1982 - .33 inch of rain.

  • The coldest start for the parade was on June 10, 2000 - 52 degrees at parade start time.

If you're a weather geek wanting more, the National Weather Service has you covered. Their report also outlines the conditions, temperatures, average wind speeds and amount of rainfall that fell for every Grand Floral Parade dating back to its beginning in 1904.

And since we're reminiscing about Grand Floral Parades gone by, here's the one in 1961, just for fun:

This Year's Grand Floral Parade

This is the crown jewel of the Rose Festival season and it's taking place this Saturday. Floats covered in flowers will make their way from the Memorial Coliseum to downtown Portland. This year's Grand Marshal is Gerry Frank, a well-known Oregonian who has contributed much to the state.

And one final note - if you live north of Vancouver and are planning to attend Saturday's Grand Floral Parade, you'll want to leave early because Interstate 5 will be closed throughout the weekend. And of course, it will impact traffic in Portland as well.