A look at Oregon Cultural Trust’s float for Grand Floral Parade

The beautiful floats in the Rose Festival Grand Floral Parade reflect many aspects of our states' people, heritage and culture.
Published: Jun. 6, 2023 at 7:12 AM PDT
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PORTLAND, Ore. (KPTV) - The beautiful floats in the Rose Festival Grand Floral Parade reflect many aspects of our states’ people, heritage and culture.

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Oregon Cultural Trust, the board decided to redesign its Oregon license plate. While the original abstract art for it was beautiful, it didn’t tell the story of Oregon culture. They realized doing that was a lofty goal.

“How do you represent all of Oregon’s art, heritage and humanities in a single design,” asked Carrie Kikel, with Oregon Cultural Trust.

Over a span of 18 months, with 36 artists from across the state, two different review panels chose what they felt was the perfect piece of art to do it.

It came from artist Liza Mana Burns with what they now call “Celebrate Oregon.” It’s an amazing panorama of Oregon geography into which the artist wove 127 symbols that reflect and respect Oregon’s people, culture, heritage, and history.

“The design is the landscape of Oregon, so the Painted Hills, valleys, rivers, mountains, sky, the beach, overlayed with cultural symbols and images that represent all the different parts of what it means to be culture in Oregon,” Burns said. “So food, art, music, language, dance, history, buildings, trades.”

Everyone was so proud of the work they all felt it deserved a much bigger platform than just a license plate.

“We have really been on a mission to share this artwork as widely as possible because we truly believe it has the power to bring Oregonians together,” Kikel said. “And to make them feel more connected and that’s pretty special.”

“Ideally, every Oregonian can look at it and find something they recognize and love about Oregon,” Burns said.

First the artist painted full scale murals in Oregon’s four largest airports. Then decided they could do one better and bring it to life in a three-dimensional way in a Rose Festival float for everyone to see.

“To see it come to life and have its spirit captured by Oregonians and have people be so responsive and so positive and so engaged, it’s a great, great feeling,” Kikel said.

In designing the float, they couldn’t include all 127 symbols so they tried to choose some very special ones, and folklórico dancers will be in front of the float and a 100-foot long Chinese dragon behind it.

The Rose Festival’s CEO says the Oregon Cultural Trust float will be the cornerstone of a whole section of the parade that will celebrate Oregon, and celebration and unity is something the cultural trust says is sorely needed right now.

“We need positive energy. We need energy that brings us together and art is so good at that,” said Kikel.

The Grand Floral Parade will take place on June 10. You can watch it in person or on FOX 12 Oregon starting at 10 a.m. For more details about the parade, click here.