History Corner: The History of Daffodil Festival Themes

By Kelly Hewitt, Daffodil Festival Alumna & Historian

Although the first official Daffodil Parade was held on March 17, 1934, yearly themes were not introduced until the year 1952. The first theme for the Daffodil Festival was “Alfred in Wonderland.”

The theme was a reference to the King Alfred daffodil, Puyallup’s most famous export. The theme helped draw the largest crowds in Tacoma to date. An estimated 200,000 lined the streets. Not only did the theme pique the interest of the crowds, but also inspired the creativity of float designers.

 

1952: Nalley’s float, which deservedly won the second place award in the commercial division. More than 1,000,000 blossoms were used in the parade which took more than 4 hours to complete between its Tacoma, Puyallup, and Sumner parade routes. Tacoma Public Library (Richards Studio D65889-9)

Throughout the years, themes were determined in creative ways. 1966’s theme of “This Land of Ours” was selected from a contest. The winner, Mrs. Anita Kundle, received the Oldsmobile convertible that Queen Kay Bryson rode in for the 1965 parade.

Theme selection is now left to the incoming Festival President. The President and First Lady/Gentleman might pick a theme on their own or ask for the input of their fellow board members.

Theme-inspired commemorative pins are sold each year. In recent years, themes not only influence the float and pin design, but also acts as the prompt for the one-minute speeches at the princess selections and Queen’s Coronation.

Take a look at the past themes for each Daffodil Parade. Which themes are your favorites?

1952 – Alfred in Wonderland

1953 – Washington Territorial Centennial

1954 – Vacation Land

1968: Float #3 from the Pierce County Senior 4-H titled “Days of Old” reflecting the 1968 theme of “Tales & Legends” and won the coveted Grand Award. Tacoma Public Library (Richards Studio D154000-95RC)

1955 – Golden Future

1956 – Story Time in Daffodils

1957 – Melodies in Daffodils

1958 – Fairytales in Daffodils

1959 – Daffodils Salute Alaska

1960 – Daffodils Salute Hawaii

1961 – Wonders of the World

1962 – Daffodils Salute Century 21

1963 – Great Moments

1964 – Nations on Parade

1965 – Masterpieces

1966 – This Land of Ours

1967 – Fun ‘N’ Fantasy

1968 – Tales & Legend

1969 – Down Memory Lane

1970 – Greatest Show on Earth

1971 – Nature Our Greatest Heritage

1985: Caption: A decorated boat, complete with a bee made of daffodils which won the Sweepstakes Award at the Tacoma Yacht Club’s Marine Parade inspired by the 1985 theme of “Spring & Alive in ’85.” Photo shared with the Daffodil Festival by the Tacoma Yacht Club.

1972 – Proudly We Hail

1973 – Happiness Is…

1974 – What the World Needs Now

1975
– Remember When

1976
– America’s 200 Years

1977
– Puget Sound USA

1978
– Free Spirit

1979
– Northwest Paradise

1980
– Magic Moments

1981
– International Interlude

1982
– Daffodil Festival Salutes Country Western

1983
– Golden Memories

1984
– Tomorrow’s Dreams

1985
– Spring & Alive in ’85

1986
– Golden Enchantment

1987
– A Quest for Peace

The 1999 court posing in front of a backdrop inspired by the year’s theme “Romance in Bloom.” Photo provided by Rochelle Fritz.

1988 – My Favorite Things

1989
– Sentimental Journey

1990
– Puget Sound on Parade

1991
– For Kids of All Ages 9-91

1992
– Rediscover America

1993
– Pure Imagination

1994
– Let the Good Times Roll

1995
– Fields of Dreams

1996
– Fun & Fascination

1997
– Symphony of Spring

1998
– Up and Away!

1999
– Romance in Bloom

2000
– A Century of Memories

2001
– Headin’ For the Future

2002
– 2002 Reasons to Smile

2003
– It’s Magic

2001 Commemorative Festival Pin. “Headin’ for the Future”.

2004 – It Was All Just Rock ‘n’ Roll

2005 – Dreams Come Alive in 2005

2006
– Daffodil Delights

2007
– All That Jazz

2008
– Remembering Your First Daffodil Parade

2009
– Swing into Spring

2010
– Carousel of Spring

2011
– Spirit of Adventure

2012
– Believe (Don’t Stop Believing)

2013
– Magic of Music

2007: Princess Gabi from Eatonville at 2007’s Promenade is tapped by co-Presidents Carol Gregory and Vicki Borovich in front of a massive logo depicting the theme of “All that Jazz.” Photo provided by Gabi Pierce


2014
– Ready, Set, Grow!

2015
– Shine Your Light with Service

2016
– Fun in the Sun

2017
– Daffodil in Paradise

2018 – Traditions in Bloom

2019
– A Heart of Service

2020
– Honoring the Past

2021
– Reach for Your Star

 

Stay Tuned for the 2022 Theme Announcement – coming SOON!

 

 

Kelly Hewitt is a 2010 Lakes High School Daffodil Festival Princess Alumna and the 2022 Festival Historian.
If you have any pieces of Daffodil Festival history that you would like to share, please contact Kelly at [email protected]

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