Portland, Ore.—A unique ship traveled 300 miles over land to a historic parade. Gordon Elliott and Allan Smith led a team that created and built the Oregon Falun Dafa Float for the Portland Starlight Parade. The huge, beautifully decorated boat looked as if it was floating on multi-colored clouds. A trio of "Celestial Maidens" in ancient costumes sat in big lotus flowers performing elegant hand gestures while others demonstrated the Falun Dafa exercises.
For five years in a row the two men have traveled about 300 miles from San Juan Island for the Starlight Parade. To create and deliver a float that is 40-feet long, 12-feet wide, and 24-feet high is quite a process. They dismantle the boat on San Juan Island and reassemble it in Portland.
Gordon Elliott, professional carpenter and contractor, said that from design to finish, the float took them about a year of work. He was talking about 20 volunteers who dedicated many evenings and weekends to the creation of the boat that became one of Starlight Parade's highlights.
Their boat won a “Best Illumination” award last year. This year it took second place for "Best Community Division," and third place for "Best Illumination."
Allan Smith, woodworker and mechanic, said, “For each parade, the boat gets completely dismantled and built anew. Each year we try to change something about the float to keep it interesting and current.”
Asked about his dedication to this project, Smith said,” People usually volunteer for really good causes. And this was a very good cause. Truth, compassion, and tolerance in the world today is something that is needed and this is what this float is all about.”
With a history of over one hundred years, the annual Portland Rose Festival has become a major attraction. This festival in June is Portland's largest event. The first Portland Rose Festival in 1907 was described as the most lavish pageant in America. Portland was among the first cities in the world to use electric streetcars.
Drawing more than two million people, the festival is considered one of the top three most highly decorated events by the International Festivals & Events Association (IFEA) and in 2007 was named the Best Festival in the World.
The Starlight Parade in Portland usually starts just after dusk. In its 105th year, the Starlight Parade remains one of the Portland Rose Festival’s most popular attractions. On June 4, the first sunny day after months of almost ceaseless rain, more than 250,000 people enthusiastically greeted the parade participants.
This year there were 109 entries that included 20 gleaming marching bands, 50 floats, drill team performances, and more. Some floats came from afar, like the “Bavarian Getaway” from Leavenworth, Wash., a town modeled after a Bavarian-style village.