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Square Dancers at Starlight Parade Wow Crowd

Callers Renee and Les Seeley call at the Starlight Parade June 5.

Renee and Les sing a call at the Starlight Parade June 5 as two trailers of square dancers roll down the street.

The Starlight Parade was a great night for square dancing. The crowds loved the dancers. Onlookers clapped to the music. They waved. They swayed and danced.

Announcers positioned throughout the parade route announced the two trailers of dancers: River City Dancers on the first float; three clubs on the second float–Happy Rock’rs, Squaws and Paws, and Chaps and Petticoats.

The exhibition was square dancing at its best: lively and happy. Smiles abounded. Participants who weren’t dancing sat on hay bales and waved to the crowds.

Dancers promenade at the Starlight Parade

Square dancers on the second trailer perform for onlookers on Portland's streets during the 2010 Starlight Parade.

Les Seeley and Renee Ruud blended their voices in a collection of singing calls. Les’ voice boomed as he invited the crowds to shout key words such as “Ole.” And shout they did!

The clubs gathered around 10 a.m. to decorate the two trailers. One trailer belongs to the state federation; the second belongs to the Portland Area Council. Tony Haskins, PAC president, pulled the trailers with his black Dodge Ram pickup. During the free time, dancers walked downtown to shop, wandered the side streets admiring other floats, and visited. At 5 p.m., everyone enjoyed pizza and a potluck.

The Mollala Buckeroo float with its lighted and moving horses was a half block away from the square dancers. Cowboys and cowgirls distributed free rodeo tickets. Word spread among the dancers, and a number received tickets.

Square dancers on horseback

Jolene and Ed of the River City Dancers walked ahead of the square dance float on their "horses." They will be performing at summer festival in Pendleton.

When the parade began at dusk, Jolene and Ed Cummings, presidents of the River City Dancers, walked ahead of the float on their horses, carrying a banner between them. The horses are part of the River City Riders, a performing group. The Cummings walked the entire length of the parade route, along with Mike Kious and several other dancers.

Toward the end of the parade, Mike removed the PAC banner from the hood of Tony’s pickup to prevent overheating. Mike carried the banner the rest of the way.

When the float reached Broadway, bright lights greeted the dancers. They were on television! Caller Les Seeley’s timing was impeccable; he and Renee were in a middle of a singing call as the float passed under the cameras.

A trailer of square dancers rolls through downtown Portland.

The River City Dancers square danced on the first trailer during the Starlight Parade.

Along the route, parade staff alerted the floats to turn down their volume, turn up their volume, to prepare to be on television, to beware of a tricky turn, and where to finally go to dismantle their floats.

The biggest drawback to being in the parade is that performers don’t get to see the parade. Many beautiful lighted floats rolled through downtown Portland for the Starlight Parade. But the square dancing float was unique. Other floats featured eye-catching displays; on the square dancing float, the dancers themselves were the display.

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