Saturday was no doubt a memorable day for members of the Puyallup High baseball, girls fastpitch and boys golf teams.
Perched atop military vehicles and vintage fire trucks, players waved to fans lining the state championship parade route in downtown Puyallup. The Vikings became part of state history as the only Class 4A school to win state titles in baseball and fastpitch in the same season just weeks ago, and the parade was a scene almost reminiscent — albeit on a much smaller scale — of the Seattle Seahawks’ Super Bowl victory parade through downtown Seattle in February.
But the great part of this parade is the story of how quickly and smoothly it came together — a shining symbol of that small town pride that really rings true throughout the city.
First let’s outline the key players: Chris Johnston, owner of Sparks Deli; Bill Korum, general manager of Korum Nissan in Puyallup and a City Council that not only declared June “Puyallup High School Champions Month,” but also approved the parade (and signed on to become a sponsor, in addition to Community One Financial and the Puyallup Auto Dealers) in a cool 48 hours.
The Sunday after the baseball and fastpitch teams won, Johnston mentioned the idea of a parade to Korum in passing. The two friends met for lunch Monday, and things got serious.
“When I put my mind to something, I’m going to make it happen,” Johnston said.
The ball got rolling on the planning, and before word had been officially announced, Johnston’s phone, email and Facebook account was overflowing with messages of overwhelming support for the parade.
Johnston, a Tacoma native who has lived in Puyallup for more than five years and has two children in the Puyallup School District, wanted the event to not only be about the players, but the entire Puyallup community.
“You come together as a community” during a celebration like this, Johnston said.
“Puyallup is still very much a small town.”
Johnston, whose restaurant is right at the intersection of two of the largest community gathering places in Puyallup in Sparks Stadium and the Washington State Fairgrounds, added yet another feather in his cap for the title of unofficial cheerleader of Puyallup School District sports by spearheading the parade organization. He already takes out ads in as many local high school team’s programs as he can.
“I have a tough time saying no,” Johnston said with a laugh.
As many parents know, although commitment to a child’s school involvement (or sports team) can be time consuming and tough to juggle at times, it can be inspiring and galvanizing to see the effort and excitement that came out of the parade.
What a great example to set for the generation of students who participated in the festivities.