The June Dairy Parade is an annual event that winds through the main streets of Tillamook to celebrate June Dairy Month. It lasts all Saturday morning and is full of music and color. You never forget your first dairy parade because, at least from my experience over the last fifteen years, they’re all pretty much the same. Except for the theme. And the horsepower.
1962 Dairy Parade Princess and Court
The theme of my first parade back in 1999 was Moving Toward The Millennium. It was the best parade I’d ever seen and continues to be—even better than the Rose Parade and Macy’s. Not because the floats are flashier and the marchers more glamorous. Just the opposite. It’s a parade of the people, by the people, and for the people.
The parade goes on rain or shine. Hey, if you can milk cows twice a day, no matter if it’s flooding, or below zero, or Christmas, you can show up to celebrate the month honoring what you do. As it turned out, the day of my first parade was blue and sunny.
A boy scout carrying the American flag led the parade, followed by more boy scouts on their bicycles with crepe paper wound through the spokes.
Then came Tillamook Dairy Band, crisply brass and decked out in green T-shirts, blue jeans, and tennis shoes. Well actually, there was also one pair of chinos and a pair of white denims, a teal T-shirt, a flowered Hawaiian shirt, and four pairs of work boots. The cymbal player was a middle-aged housewife happily crashing up the rear.
When the flag passed, everyone rose. Except for a moody teenager in grunge. His mother ordered him up, and the crowd cheered her.
The Dairy Princess and her court rode regally by in a Y2K CowPliant Float. All peachy in their youth, gowns, and enthusiasm for milk, these girls did not seem to be the usual pedestal divas but robust young women who already knew how to shovel away the shit to get where they wanted to go.
Mayor Bob McPheeters came through, high on the back of a convertible seat, waving a carton of—yep—Tillamook milk.
The Mayor’s Award went to a big white cloud of a float built by Tillamook County churches and sponsored by Genesis Computer Services.
An exterminator company turned its cardboard guns on a big jiggly millennium bug, followed by a flatbed carrying the Coast Swingers in full square-dance regalia, the men promenading their partners home to the sound of fiddle and caller.