Rhody Days — Back in Bloom
Guest Viewpoint by Ramiro Ramirez, Jr.
(Editor’s Note: Viewpoint submissions on this and other topics are always welcome as part of our goal to encourage community discussion and exchange of perspectives.)
For my life in the past decade, Rhody Days was a fun handful of days deciding who the kings and queens would be, going on thrilling rides and capping it off with a packed parade.
Florence has held the Rhododendron Festival since 1908, and it is one of the weeks I most look forward to. I can always count on this event in our nice little town.
Surely, the 2020 edition of the festival was going to be like all the others. It was going to have my favorite components: Rhody Court, Davis Shows NW Carnival and the Grand Floral Parade. However, as tiring as it is to say, COVID happened, and like it was during World War II, the festivities would be suspended, (or at least, heavily altered to a virtual event). It was unfortunate, but understandable that the safety of the public was being kept in mind.
During May 2020, while I was safely stowed at home taking college classes online, my mind would drift off into what the festivities meant to me.
The Best the City of Florence Has to Offer: The Rhody Court
It’s no doubt the rhododendron flower is a signature hallmark to this western Lane County town. Its beautiful, screaming pink color makes it a standout in nature. I could probably say that it is one of the best things this town has to offer. When these flowers spring, it’s also a time to decide who will partake in the Coronation of the King of the Coast and Queen Rhododendra of the Rhody Court.
Sure, judges think of many things as they score the court members, but when it comes to selecting the best, they vote for those who have the best personal qualities. It could be talent, or what the person has done to give back to the community.
Just like the rhododendron flower, the best Rhody Court members are of the highest quality.
The Great Social Gathering: The Carnival
When you ask a young child what is their favorite part of Rhody Days, chances are they are going to say they like the carnival the most, and who can blame them? It’s got bright colors, thrilling rides, and, to top it all off, fun!
It is additional fun when friends and family are brought into the mix. The carnival each year is a giant social gathering.
I haven’t been a very social person throughout most of my teen years, especially these past two years of the pandemic. However, when I have been social during Rhody Days, the experience was more fun than it was when going by myself.
With my friends or family members, we talked about our lives, voted on which ride to go on next and even overcame our fears together in some of the more thrilling rides.
The carnival is a magical place in a way, but the magic is even stronger when you have a group of friends who grew up in this town, moved out, and come back to meet up with each other after years of being apart.
Celebrating More Than Our Community: The Parade
The Court has been decided, the carnival visited, and Rhody Days is coming to a close. How do we cap off an extended weekend of celebration? A grand celebratory parade. The parade is surely a hallmark of the many things us citizens of Florence celebrate. Bands, local theater companies, horse riders and more make up the incredible parade that celebrates the iconic traits of this city.
Every year, you may spot several parade groups that could be from Roseburg, Sutherlin, Eugene or beyond. In the parade, we don’t just celebrate our community, we also acknowledge and celebrate the things other cities in Oregon have to offer as well. As the saying goes: The more the merrier. And when more communities join in on the fun parade, the event as a whole is an incredible spectacle.
As you can see, each of these three events that take place throughout Rhody Week hold a special meaning. The best of the city, the incredible social gatherings and a fantastic parade to top it all off. These are the qualities that make Rhody Days something I look forward to every year.
And while it’s bittersweet to see Rhody Days come to an end, it’s usually a signal to the beginning of wonderful sunny days. That, I believe, is what several of us look forward to the most.
Ramiro was a columnist for the Siuslaw News while he was attending Siuslaw High School. Now that he has completed his first year of college, he will write an Opinion column every so often.