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Saturday's tulip parade is a favorite local tradition

It started as an impromptu event. Then it became not-so-impromptu.

These days the La Conner Kiwanis Skagit Valley Tulip Festival Parade on First Street is among the most visible and highly anticipated signs that spring – if not just around the corner – is certainly in the local zip code.

This year's serpentine is 2 p.m. April 8. Participants are to gather 30 minutes prior to start time at the La Conner Marina's south basin parking lot.

It started in 1987 with the late Luke Long, a La Conner Kiwanian and proud member of the Nile Temple Oriental Band, on a whim inviting his fellow Shriners to march here – minus the required permit – before he quickly ducked into the Pub for a meal and refreshments.

In keeping with tradition, there will be a distinctly La Conner flavor on Saturday's menu.

Kiwanian Joy Neal, a former La Conner library director, said residents Brad and Barbara Bradford have been selected as grand marshals for the 2023 tulip parade.

"She was active in Soroptimists and both were active in Friends of the Library," Neal said of the Bradfords' involvement in La Conner civic causes. "They worked in the library's thrift shop, which raised money for the library. Brad donated a classic truck that was sold to raise money for the new library and more recently made planters out of leftover building wood and sold them last summer – again to raise money to help furnish the new building."

La Conner Soroptimists will be among the wide range of participants taking part in festivities rebounding nicely from the COVID-19 pandemic that closed down the Skagit Valley in the spring of 2020.

"Soroptimists International of La Conner is marching in the tulip parade," club spokesperson Nancy Hinton confirmed in a recent email announcement. "It's a great way to show our involvement in the community and have fun while we're at it.

"We'll be decked out in bunny ears for those who like to dress up," she added, "and we'll hand out candy on the parade route."

Parade-goers can also expect to see the recently crowned La Conner Elementary School Daffodil Festival royal court. Those students – Queen Isabella Rubalcaba, King Jaydon Otis, Princess Heidi Wilbur and Prince Emmitt Alvord – were named during campus ceremonies last Friday and will ride in a parade float.

With that lineup and much more, the parade is guaranteed to bring smiles regardless of weather conditions.

Those wishing to join in the march are invited to complete a parade registration form and email it to [email protected] or download it and show up Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at the marina south basin lot.


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