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February 24th, 2014 by Terry Miller
Temple City’s 70th Camellia Festival Parade celebrated
After its humble beginnings in 1944, the Camellia Festival saw hundreds of Temple City residents line the streets of Las Tunas to witness history in the making – the 70th Camellia Festival parade dedicated to the children of the community. During a picture perfect southern California day, the children were the stars of the show.
On Friday, January 31, a Camellia Festival Coronation ceremony was held in the Community Center at Live Oak Park. Dawn Tarin, General Chairperson of the 2014 Camellia Festival, announced that Austin Bateman and Ella Clinton would be the King and Queen of the 70th Annual Temple City Camellia Festival. Bateman and Clinton took on their respective Royal roles with dignity and poise as they waved to their adoring fans Saturday morning.
The Royal Court and Banner Carriers, all First Graders, were chosen from contestants who participated in our annual Play Day. The Royal Court reigned over the entire 2014 three day Camellia Festival .
In 1944 a contest was held by the Women’s Club of Temple City to choose a flower and a slogan for this community. Mrs. Ralph Saunders submitted the winning entry – “Temple City Home of Camellias”.
In 1945 Mrs. Dan Crowley, President of the Women’s Club originated the idea that the slogan should be put to work. At her suggestion and with the help of Mrs. Loverne Morris, Sharon Ray Pearson, then eight months old, was crowned Queen and rode in an open car down Las Tunas Drive as a handful of Camp Fire Girls gave out Camellia blossoms to pedestrians.
In 1946, at the request of the Woman’s Club, the Chamber of Commerce assumed the promotion of the slogan. All local youth groups, numbering approximately 150 members, formed a parade beginning at the theatre parking lot, at Rosemead Blvd. and Las Tunas Drive and ending at the first reviewing stand at Primrose and Las Tunas. It was also decided this year that the Camellia Royalty should be chosen from local first graders with the idea that after having participated in the Camellia Parade they would all want to ~ to one of the youth organizations. A King, Queen, two princes and two princesses were chosen. More elaborate plans were made for honoring the royal group with entertainment and the merchants donating gifts to the children.
By 1949, further improvements were made, rules for the parade were strengthened, and more and more people took interest. Because it was the year of the California Centennial the theme selected was, “Golden Miners”. Tickets were sold on two ponies. Just in case the winner found no desire to own a horse, two fifty-dollar War Bonds were purchased. Needless to say, we were left holding the bag with two ponies. It was quite a struggle getting rid of the livestock. However, the carnival and the first Camellia Show were financial successes. The parade was divided into age group divisions and the community was really pleased with its efforts. For the first time service clubs were invited to enter floats in recognition of their youth activities.
Each festival thereafter proved only that the event was growing in size and popularity. Youth groups were improving on their float presentations so much that it was decided that more prizes including a Sweepstakes Award must be given. Local groups were growing in membership by leaps and bounds. Big name entertainers were happy to act as Grand Marshal and narrate the parade down the boulevard. The festival was getting national recognition. In many newspapers and magazines Temple City became famous for its interest in children and as a “Home Community”.
In 1960 the festival became a joint venture of the City of Temple City and the Chamber of Commerce. Each year has seen growth in the festival. An Art Show for Junior and Senior High School Students was added in 1969. Students must live in Temple City and be in grades 7th through 12th. The students receive cash awards and ribbons for their artwork. The Student Art Show is open to the public and is held in the Library Meeting Room.
Starting with a handful of youngsters that first year, the parade has grown in size and significance to the point where Temple City prepares yearly to welcome over 4,000 children to its parade and greet more than 20,000 visitors to the city. From 1967 to 1973 we had the Coronation Ball, which was inaugurated as a means of better acquainting the youth leaders, festival committee members and city officials; thus strengthening the interest of all