When the Daffodil Festival Grand Floral Parade comes through downtown Sumner each spring, it requires a considerable amount of preparation.
For the past several years, the Sumner Downtown Association has struggled to enlist younger generations to volunteer to design and build the community float.
“That sense of community has been lost,” said Theresa Haase, a co-chair for this year’s float committee.
“It’d be a good thing to see young people involved and enjoying volunteering that they can carry into adulthood,” Haase said.
Tracy Critchley joined Haase to lead the committee this year.
Haase said she’s lived in Sumner for 32 years and remembers the Daffodil Festival parade being a big deal for her classmates at Sumner High School.
“Just in the time I was in high school, three out of the four years I was there, Sumner had the queen for the Daffodil Festival,” Haase said.
For years, the Sumner Downtown Association has taken on the role of storing the float during the offseason and covering the cost of insurance. In past years, it has spent nearly $12,000 just on design.
“This year, we are recycling props from years past to decorate the float for 2014 due to a large budget deficit,” said Laurie Miller, the executive director of the Sumner Downtown Association. “With that in mind, we have also been forced to reduce our (design) budget to $5,000.”
Miller said the design budget largely comes from the Business and Occupation Tax Credit Incentive program, which provides about 70 to 80 percent of SDA’s annual budget. Miller said the SDA will bring in less than $60,000 from the program this year.
“We were fortunate to have the money this year to do something,” Miller said. “Money is only so good if you have the volunteers to manage the float process.”
Haase, Critchley and Kaetlynn Brown, Sumner High School’s princess for this year, make up the float committee.
Laura Metzler, the volunteer coordinator at the SDA, has worked on recruiting. But Miller said Metzler has only gained interest from students at Sumner and Emerald Ridge high schools. Miller also said there is no guarantee those volunteers will show up to work on the float.
Daffodil Festival regulations stipulate that participating schools must submit a community float in the parade in the current festival year in order to qualify for participation the following year.
In Puyallup, the city’s Main Street Association is looking for a new group to take on the responsibility of designing and building a float. Association members hope the Puyallup School District may partner with them on the project.
Steve James, executive director of the Daffodil Festival, said it falls on each participating school district to take responsibility of designing and building a float.
In Sumner, the SDA and the Sumner School District haven’t started that conversation. However, Haase believes students should take part in the effort, if only to learn and appreciate the value of volunteering.
“I enjoy that sense of community,” she said. “I’ve enjoyed the parade. It’s a neat thing. It’s nice having everyone cheer us on about the float.”
Volunteer driver needed
Sherm Voiles has served as the driver of the float for the past several years. The Sumner Downtown Association is seeking a volunteer to take over the role starting in 2015. Voiles will train the next driver. For more information, call Laura Metzler at 253-891-4260 or email laura@ sumnerdowntown.com.Reporter Andrew Fickes can be reached at 253-552-7001 or by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter, @herald_andrew.