Courtesy of @EHS_Cruisers

Jade Egan, Eatonville's Daffodil Princess, spurred the community to build the float.
Courtesy of @EHS_Cruisers Jade Egan, Eatonville's Daffodil Princess, spurred the community to build the float.

A long Pierce County tradition nearly left out Eatonville this year.

But thanks to one Eatonville High School senior, the town's representation in the county-wide Daffodil Festival continued.

Jade Egan, this year's Daffodil Princess from Eatonville, was shocked that the deadline to apply was closing in and her high school wasn't on the list.

"No one was making a float, which is one of the requirements to be in the festival and parade," she said. "I ended up kind of leading the project. But I had a ton of help."

The 2018 Daffodil Festival theme is "Tradition in Bloom," so Egan had the idea of a float celebrating Eatonville's lumber tradition: "Timber Town Tradition," will roll down four main streets tomorrow as part of the many Daffodil Festival parades. The float features a miniature Mt. Rainier facsimile thanks to Eatonville’s shop class. Egan painted a tiny replica of the wooden sign which welcomes visitors to Eatonville.

The parade starts tomorrow, April 7 at 10:15 a.m. in Tacoma. The parade will head to Puyallup at 12:45 p.m., Sumner at 2:30 p.m. and Orting at 5 p.m.

The Parade consists of over 180 entries, including floats, bands, marching and mounted units. Linking one generation to another in tradition, floats are decorated with thousands of fresh-cut daffodils, just like the daffodil flowers that grew in the Puyallup Valley for more than 80 years. Get the exact routes of the parade at TheDaffodilFestival.org.

Egan said that it was an honor to be selected as Eatonville’s princess, but it’s proven to be quite a bit of work.

“It’s been pretty overwhelming with all these events,” she said. “There are some days where I’m picked up from home at 7 a.m. and don’t go home until 11 p.m.”

Egan and the 22 other princesses (including newly-crowned Daffodil Queen Allie Brooks from Tacoma’s Lincoln High School) have events to attend year-round. Egan said she has read to children at Pierce County libraries and visited with seniors at assisted-living homes. After this weekend’s parades, other events include the Junior Parade (for potential future Daffodil Princesses and other local youth groups) on April 14, the Maritime Parade on April 15 and the Daffodil Princess Tea in Sumner on May 6.

The festival started on April 6, 1926 when Sumner resident Charles W. Orton and his wife threw a garden party for representatives and dignitaries from all over Western Washington. The event was such a hit, it became an annual event. Daffodils first really began to bloom in the Puyallup Valley in the mid-1920s after the area’s hop industry began to wilt (something about Prohibition making beer harder to legally produce). The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommended bulb plants because of the soil and climate. Nearly 200 kinds of daffodils are grown in the area, the best known being the King Alfred varietal.

In 1932, “Bulb Sunday” was born and quickly became both a tourist draw and a traffic headache for Sumner, Puyallup and Orting, just as quickly ending the event. In 1934 the idea of making the daffodil blooms the feature in a parade was proposed. Since that years festival, it has only not been held in 1943, 1944 and 1945. It turns 85 years old this year.

All this history helped inspire Egan to take part in the Daffodil Festival. Even then, she was not new to it.

“My freshman year I was in the band in the parade,” she said. “My sophomore and junior years I was part of the cheerleading squad in the parade. We’re looking forward to some “liquid sunshine” this year.”

Egan will be attending the University of Washington next year, and earned direct admittance to the Foster School of Business. She has one sibling, John, who is attending Washington State University. When not being a Princess, Egan enjoys skiing, cheerleading and tending to the animals on her family’s farm.