"Harpo" rides in San Bruno Posy Parade, June 6, 1982 Photo: Dave Dornlas
San Bruno Posy Parade
The flower-decked floats and entries in this
children's parade were judged on how they best represented the
theme chosen for that year. The oldest children's parade in the
United States, it was first held in 1941 as a "festival of flowers"
dedicated to children. Patterned after the famous Tournament of
Roses Parade in Pasadena, this parade was advertised as "The
Tournament of Posies Parade." Eighty children marched in the first
parade. Any child could enter and march as long as flowers
predominated in the decoration of their tricycles, buggies, pets,
etc. The paraders were grouped into "divisions." Division 1
included wagons, wheelbarrows, or carts that were pushed or pulled.
Division 2 was tricycles, scooters, non-motorized "autos,"
velocipedes or wheeled toys, excluding bicycles. Division 3 was for
doll or baby carriages. Division 4 was for "unique or original
ideas." Division 5 was only for bicycles, and Division 6 was floats
from children's organizations. No motorized vehicles were
permitted. Beginning in 1944, a San Bruno schoolgirl was selected
as Parade Princess, accompanied by a "court" of other young girls,
all dressed in finery and flowers. In 1945, the Posy Parade Ball
was inaugurated as a fund-raiser.
In 1989, the 49th Posy Parade became the focal point
of San Bruno 75th anniversary. But in 1991, a seemingly innocuous
change in the parade's divisions significantly altered the look and
success of future parades. Division 1 became "Baseball," and later
simply "Sports" (teams). Teams are allowed to march without any
kind of floral decoration, so, by the end of the decade, the parade
had deteriorated into dozens of sports teams, marching in uniform.
By 1999, there were only three decorated carriage/buggy entries and
only two cart/wagon entries. Other factors have also contributed to
the Parade's decline: the urbanization of San Bruno, once a
primarily rural community; working mothers with less time to devote
to such a social event; the continued decline in support of local
businesses. The parade was carried on in the 1990s: a princess and
her court are still selected; the mayor still rides in a snorkel
fire truck, a few bands march, as do the ubiquitous sports teams.
But the parade does not have the flair nor the crowds of days gone
by. Still, it is the city's unique claim to fame, and it is hoped
that the tradition will survive.
Included in the project documentation are a 21-page
history of the event, photos of the Parade with accompanying
descriptions, a roster of the Posy Parade Princesses, Posy Parade
ephemera (copies of newspaper articles, flyers, promotional
materials), and a videotape of Posy Parade highlights (1963, 1997,
1998, and 1999).
Originally submitted by: Tom Lantos, Representative (12th District).
The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.