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Pear Blossom Festival, parade make people happy to be outside

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Photo by Denise Baratta. Laney Poteet, 8, of Central Point, checks out her new face painting in a mirror during the post-parade festivities Saturday in Medford's Pear Blossom Park.
Photo by Denise Baratta. Pacific Power workers Ross Leslie, right, and Matthew McIntyre ride a power pole down Saturday's Pear Blossom Parade in downtown Medford.
Photo by Denise Baratta. Mary Beth Wells laughs while riding on the musical Children's Festival float featureing "Rosabelle" the garbage dragon, Saturday during Medford's Pear Blossom Parade.
Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune Melanie Cortez-Wear, 6, had her face painted before the parade.
Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune Lily walt, 5, and Justin Walt, of Medford, watch the Pear Blossom Parade in downtown Medford on Saturday.
Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune Baile Folklorico dancers participate in the Pear Blossom Parade in downtown Medford on Saturday.
Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune The North Medford High School Marching Band participates in the Pear Blossom Parade in downtown Medford on Saturday.
Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune A member of the Grange Co-op float gets a hug during the Pear Blossom Parade in downtown Medford on Saturday.
Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune The Pear Blossom Parade is held in downtown Medford on Saturday.
Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune The Pear Blossom Parade is held in downtown Medford on Saturday.
Photo by Denise Baratta. Members of Panache Dance strut their moves down Central Avenue Saturday during Medford's Pear Blossom Parade.
The 69th annual Pear Blossom Festival returned to its fun, full strength this year with the parade theme ‘Grow Your Community’

The sun was shining, people were happy to be outside and pieces of candy were thrown often to children Saturday during this year’s Pear Blossom Parade.

After two years of truncated versions of the festival amid the pandemic, this was the first full-scale version of this annual local gathering since 2019.

Parade organizers estimated there would be as many as 30,000 spectators along the route through downtown Medford. There were also 400 entries in what has become the region’s largest annual parade.

Plenty of spectators were lining the parade route long before the 11 a.m. start time. Sidewalks were four-people deep in some sections of the route. Onlookers brought fold-up chairs. Families rolled their smaller children around downtown in wagons.

Motorcycle officers roared down the street, sometimes circling around, and firefighters honked their horns and ran their sirens as they negotiated the right turn from Central Avenue onto West Main Street.

Area government officials had the chance to greet people from inside classic cars, though some had the opportunity to ride inside of police or firefighting vehicles instead, such as Medford City Councilor Sarah Spansail.

The Jackson County Horseman’s Association brought its horses and included a wheelbarrow-pushing clean-up crew.

“Cow Creek was my favorite. It was absolutely incredible,” Katie York of Medford, who was at work as a salesperson at Holiday Jewelers, said about the float from the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians.

She and other employees from the first-floor shop could see the high-profile naturalistic float design titled “Journey Through the Ages” because it was tall. Not to mention intricately designed.

The shop has many windows facing the street so workers could see much of what was going on — at least things that were taller than the spectators.

Lee Anderson and this family, all from Medford, watched the parade together this year. He had opted instead to participate in the Pear Blossom Run in the past.

They all had a good time this year, he said

His children most enjoyed watching a group of men with large furry hats that looked like wigs. They donned short capes over their other clothes as they performed jumping dance moves that made every strand of their furry headgear jump as furiously as the rest of their bodies.

Sons Gus Anderson, 7, and Ike Anderson, 5, also showed off the candy they were able to collect. Gus was proud to show off the full-size chocolate bar he had received. Ike had tucked his candy inside a bag that he clutched under his arm.

Some groups threw full-size candy bars. There were full, personal-size bottles of soft drinks being handed out as well.

“I thought it was great,” said Alex Spataro of Medford as she was packing up to leave the parade. “It was nice seeing the community come out, to show support and come together.”

Her favorite participants were the bands and horses.

Other popular groups participating in this year’s parade included a float that also served as a boxing ring, a shortened lumberjack-style climbing pole and a custom bicycle company with people of all ages riding their creations.

Many of the people who came downtown to watch the parade made their way to the food and vendor booths at nearby Pear Blossom Park afterward.

Sushi Ice Cream Rolls, Corn Dogs of the World and a cookie-and-fudge dessert in a variety of flavors called “Fookie” were just a few of the meals, drinks, snacks and desserts for sale in the busy location with entertainment, vendors and myriad information booths focused on array of topics.

The Goodings, also of Medford, were sharing an entree, and their daughters, Braelyn, 10, and Kelsey, 4, were snacking on cotton candy.

Joe Gooding said the horses and a float that featured people in unicorn costumes were his favorites in the parade.

While waiting in line to buy some food — gyros or French fries — Alysha Bear said she enjoyed the music in the parade provided by the area marching bands.

“I think that everyone’s excited to be out today,” she said.

This year’s Parade Grand Marshal was Sanctuary One, and its Honorary Grand Marshal was Rogue Credit Union.