Pilot story and photos by Bill Lundquist
Members of the Azalea Festival Court were "piped" up to a stage full of waiting dignitaries in Saturday afternoon's Azalea Park Program.
Renewing an old tradition, Azalea Queen Summer Worlton and her princesses were escorted to the stage by their fathers between ranks of pipers from the Eugene Highlanders Pipe Band.
Worlton was followed by princesses Jaime Sanders, Kimberly Hodges, Lindsey Rapraeger, and Cassandra Taylor.
Master of Ceremonies Les Cohen, the executive director of the Brookings-Harbor Chamber of Commerce, said the members of the court had gone through a three to four month training process.
"They are our ambassadors to other communities as well," he said.
Chamber President Peter Spratt introduced the festival's grand marshals, Buzz and Hope Hansen.
Spratt praised the Hansens for their volunteer work in the community. Buzz, in fact, designed the stage he was honored on, and the park building next to it. He was also commended for his work on the school bond and building project.
Hansen said they'd been in the community for 15 years.
"We came here to fish while we were selling our house in Eugene, and stayed," he said.
"This is the last place I'm going to be," said Hansen. "When I'm finished they can throw my ashes in the river."
He concluded by saying, "I like to speak not with words but deeds."
Cohen said Hansen's deeds "can be seen all over town."
Another couple with few words and great deeds was the festival's pioneer citizens, Archie and Doris McVay, who were also last year's grand marshals.
They were introduced by Vern Garvin of KURY Radio, who said, "Archie took me on my first hunting trip."
The McVay family has been in Curry County since the 1850s, and Archie and Doris created what became the Port of Brookings Harbor.
Archie said simply, "I learned a long time ago the less you say, the better. So thank you. This is a real honor."
Brookings Mayor Bob Hagbom then presented the parade awards.
The President's Award for best use of flowers went to the joint entry of Flora Pacifica and the Brookings Harbor Garden Club.
The Grand Marshal's Award for the best use of special effects went to the Seacrest Bonsai Club.
The Queen's Award for best use of color went to the Cranberry Court from Bandon.
When no one stepped forward to accept the trophy, Cohen took the most painful pun award by saying, "I guess they got bogged down in traffic."
The Mayor's Award went to the Pacific Coast Antique Mall, and the Sweepstakes Award for the best overall entry went to the Curry County Board of Realtors.
Within categories, the best band entry was the combined Azalea Middle School and Brookings-Harbor High School band.
The best equestrian entry was the 4-H Club Rail Riders. The best groups and singles entry was the Cliffhangers. The best antique or classic car entry was from John Yost.
Following the program, the Highlanders performed. The band had once attended more than 20 Azalea Festivals, but had been absent for several years before returning last year.
One of the drummers said this year the band wanted to dedicate a performance as an impromptu memorial to the Green Door Pub, which closed more than a decade ago.
He said the pipers were always welcomed so warmly at the pub that they didn't have to pay for a drink all weekend.