I get asked that question a lot. I think most people think parade and princesses when they think Lilac Festival. This is true, but it is all so much more. Military. Leadership. Pride. Community. These words come to mind when I think Lilac. And here is why.
Military. This city is rooted by its military presence. From the old Calvary days of Fort Wright and the Buffalo soldiers to Fairchild Air Force Base and the home of the KC-135, Spokane is steeped in military history. The Spokane Trophy, donated by the city of Spokane in 1907 to the United States Navy is one of the most prestigious, and at four million dollars, the most expensive trophies a combatant ship in the Pacific Fleet can earn. For years, Spokane has proven its great love and appreciation of their military. These are some of the many reasons the Spokane Lilac Festival Parade is always on Armed Forces Appreciation Day, the largest torchlight Armed Forces Parade in the United States!
Leadership. Of course when you think Military you think Leadership. But when I think Lilac and Leadership I think of our Royal Courts. The ladies selected each year from the area schools to be a part of the Royal Court are picked for their remarkable leadership abilities. Never have so many Presidents of Student Councils, Captains of sports teams, National Honor Society Inductees been a part of one community organization in our city. The resumes of our Lilac Royal Courts over the years truly boast some of the best and brightest of our young leaders of Spokane.
Pride. From the precision of the high school bands to the colors of the neighboring town’s floats, the parade is a demonstration in pride. A city where over half of the people come out to watch a community parade – and then stands every time a US flag or US Veteran goes by – it is a humbling sight to see your first time. Pride in our city, our region, our people and our children. That is what you feel with each entry of the parade that passes your seat and it is what is taken with the float when Spokane is represented across the region in other parades – pride in Spokane.
Community. The Spokane Lilac Festival is represented by every bit of the entire Spokane community. Only funded by donations and sponsorships, this city wide festival enjoyed by all is only able to continue each year because of the people and the community. Volunteers include former military leaders and teachers. realtors and electricians, lawyers and bank tellers. All of Spokane is a part of Lilac. Cheering on our Veterans from wars past – that is a community. Clapping to the regions high school bands and beautiful floats as they march past – that is community. Holding your breath as Gold Star Mothers pass with their banners of their lost children – that is community. Community is alive and well in Spokane and no matter how much we grow, the roots from which we came will stay.
So what is the Spokane Lilac Festival? It is truly an annual celebration honoring our military, recognizing our youth and showcasing our community. It is a parade with princesses. But now you know, that it is so much more! It is Military. It is Leadership. It is Pride. It is Community.