Apple Blossom Junior Royalty Queen Makaylin Collings, center, and Junior Royalty Princesses Annabelle Lodge, left, and Olivia Vanatta, right, wave to the crowd as they make their way down the Keyes Fibre Youth Parade route on Saturday.
WENATCHEE — Seated on a window-ledge along Mission Street, a mother and daughter waited for a parade to begin while murmurs from nearby families were pierced by screeching plastic trumpets.
It was the first Keyes Fibre/Dolco Youth Parade since 2019. Hilary Parker, a lifelong Wenatchee resident, has only missed a few and didn’t want to miss its return.
“I’m excited for the bands, they’re always fun,” Parker said. Speaking of her 2.5-year-old daughter, Piper, she added, “She loves to dance. It’ll be fun.”
Parker picked the spot for its overhead coverage, but brought a jacket and umbrella in case rain fell again.
“I was really worried with the rain but it seems to have kind of held off so hopefully it’ll stay [away],” she said. And it did, with morning rains subsiding before the procession began Saturday morning down Orondo Avenue.
Apple Blossom was canceled in 2020 and the following year organizers hosted the festival in June with modifications, to include the combining of the youth parade and the grand parade into one: the 2021 Stemilt and Keyes Fibre Community Parade.
This year the festival is running under its usual schedule, with the youth parade bookending the 103rd Washington State Apple Blossom Festival with the Stemilt Grand Parade on May 7.
Volunteers wore red hats in honor of former youth parade chairman Roger Pollock, who died in March at age 80, said Festival Administrator Darci Christoferson. Pollock chaired the youth parade for 25 years and volunteered with the festival for five decades.
The parade was chaired this year by Linda Haglund — her 13th and final festival as chairman, Christoferson said.
So far, the festival is pushing numbersm, Christoferson said Thursday — opening day — was the biggest ever.
“It’s definitely hoppin,’” Christoferson said.
She suspects that’s from a longing to return to normal as most COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted.
“I think now it feels more real and the tradition is back and it’s on the normal weekend,” Christoferson said. “I just think people are just so excited to have something normal again.”
Sixty-one floats and groups participated in the parade. That’s down a little from most years, “but this is a great number,” Christoferson said.
After the bands and dancers and a miniature helicopter on wheels passed down Orondo Avenue and Mission Street, Michelle Hood shared an ice cream sandwich with two of her daughters, Ingrid, 3, and Ilse, 6 months.
A third daughter participated in the parade with St. Joseph’s Catholic School.
“These guys kind of haphazardly got to join the parade, too,” Hood said of Ingrid and Ilse, who tried to walk alongside some of the participants.
Hood and her family moved to the area two years ago. Last year’s combined parade was their first Apple Blossom parade. She’s enjoyed seeing more people out in public.
“It’s nice that the community is starting to open up again, you know,” Hood said. “It’s nice to finally be doing stuff downtown, meeting people, seeing faces.”
An earlier version of this story misstated a clothing item worn by volunteers and the festival’s age.
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