PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Timbers organization, in partnership with Alaska Airlines, were honored as the Grand Marshals of this year's Portland Rose Festival Parade on Saturday.
“Alaska Airlines values very much the Portland Timbers and the partnership we've had through the years [along with] the MLS Championship and all the wonderful things the Portland Timbers have accomplished through the years and all the amazing things [they've] done in the community,” explained Alaska Airlines Special Projects coordinator Contesa Diaz-Nicolaidis. “I think for us it seemed like a win-win to be able to celebrate [the team] this year.”
As the Alaska Airlines procession pulled out of the Veterans Memorial Coliseum at the beginning of the parade route, Timbers midfielder Jack Jewsbury, on hand with his two daughters and teammate Ben Zemanski, hoisted up the MLS Cup trophy to a chorus of cheers from the crowd.
“I think it's an honor for the Timbers organization to be the Grand Marshall at such a big event,” said Jewsbury. “I don't think I really realized how massive of an event it was until we got here and saw all the people and all the floats and to see how beautiful and how big they really are. So it's a true honor to really be a part of it.”
Behind the lead car, Timbers head coach Caleb Porter and his family sat in the back of a vintage convertible Ford Mustang and waved to the supportive crowd.
On foot behind the players and their coach were members of the Timbers Army, who processed amidst clouds of green and gold smoke chanting their support for the team.
Finally came the Alaska Airlines float, the centerpiece of which was the larger-than-life figure of a young girl in a Timbers jersey, arms outstretched in celebration of the goal that she's just scored. In front of her sits a massive imitation log, over which Timber Joey himself stood as he waved to the crowds.
“This year, we really wanted to look at what was important to both the Timbers and Alaska Airlines with regards to what we celebrate and what we are going to be celebrating this year and so we felt like having a soccer player on the float would very much line up with what we're celebrating: soccer and sport,” said Diaz-Nicolaidis.
The beautiful Alaska Airlines Timbers float also received the prestigious Presidents' Award for the most effective overall floral presentation.
But the day was about more than just celebrating the team. It was also about celebrating the entire Portland community and as thousands of spectators began lining the streets around Memorial Coliseum it became clear that this was going to be a special day.
For Jewsbury, who brought his wife and two daughters with him to celebrate, the day provided a special memory that they would be able to share for years to come.
“They're young enough to understand what's going on, but they were excited to see the truck and excited to see that we're going to be on there together,” Jewsbury said of his daughters. “So to have the girls with me and to celebrate with the city about a championship that we brought here last year will be exciting.”
Jewsbury explained that he and his daughters practiced their waves in the mirror the night before, but when asked about who was better at it, Jewsbury didn't hesitate.
“Definitely my daughters and not me!” he said with a laugh.