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Starlight Parade returns for its 40th go-round of nighttime merriment
Heat wave fails to deter thousands from packing Portland's downtown to watch annual night parade
And the crowd went wild.
Attendees at the 40th annual Starlight Parade in Portland June 4 might have been excited to see local author Cheryl Strayed roll by in the back of a convertible or TVs most recent Bachelor (Ben Higgins) and his West Linn bride-to-be, Lauren Bushnell, but what really set people off was the Storm Troopers.
These parades are something else, said Harry Starr, member of Cloud City Garrison. The lights are bright, the crowds are loud its amazing.
Starr and 55 of the garrisons members walked the parade in Star Wars costumes, something they do every Starlight Parade and at 150-odd events for charity throughout the year.
People cant seem to get enough.
Missy Thingelstad of Beaverton marched as a Jedi this year but she used to walk the parade route as a spotter, helping keep the garrison members with visibility challenged costumes from going off-course.
There are always over-excited fans, especially kids, who rush up to the Storm Troopers and they cant see them. Spotters are there to keep everyone safe, she said.
The Garrison got a boost of about a dozen new members this year after the latest Star Wars movie was released, said Starr, and now have about 80 members from Oregon and southwest Washington. For the most part, members make their own costumes, some going as far as molding their own futuristic armor.
Missy and her husband Scott joined the garrison five years ago, after attending a Star Wars convention in L.A. It takes the couple, and other garrison members, an average of 30 minutes to suit up for an event.
I love to see how excited the kids get to see us, said Missy.
Elsewhere along the parades staging area, groups are gathering and floats are being prepped, most with the festive fun-loving theme that marks the Starlight Parade: be something other than yourself or maybe, something MORE than yourself.
Over where the Mysti Krewe of Nimbus gather, the mostly middle-aged group displays an unsurpassed zest for color and mayhem in their costume and attitude, all akin to the Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans.
A block over a group of busy Sikhs in turbans the color of tangerines are stapling plastic bunting on a float. Marching bands pour out of yellow school busses and marchers help each other with face paint.
On a quieter block West Linns Old Time Fair court have already gotten dressed in their royal blue gowns, despite the 95 degree heat. Queen Bella Deeb gently swishes her hoop skirt and petticoat, trying to keep cool. The princesses wear personal fans on cords around their necks, over their sashes.
The Old Time Fair is entering its 60th year of selecting a choice group of middle school-aged girls to represent the annual summer festival.
I never thought about being a role model for anyone and now I have little girls come up to talk to me and ask for a photo, said Princess Mikayla Simon. Something about the crown and the sash makes you more approachable I guess. It feels great.
Bella was a princess last year and crowned queen during the 2015 Fair. Shes an old hand now at personal appearances and community service and said that while she loves the Starlight Parade in Portland, she most looks forward to the Old Time Fair parade in West Linn.
Its in our community and this year were including as many former Queens as we can find, Bella said. Its going to be great.