Temple City's first Camellia Festival Parade – 1944
1944 marked the contest held by the Women's Club of Temple City to choose a flower and a slogan for this community. Mrs. Ralph Saunders submitted the winner, "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. Queen Nancy Harp and her two princesses were honored, the Monterey Park Girls Drum and Bugle Corps played, the Chamber of Commerce President presented the tiny little girls with lockets and the crowd went home. In 1947 the Chamber of Commerce decided that the festival should be put to better use by further promoting the growth of local youth groups. 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.
In 1948, Chairman Blaine Bender with his vision and good showmanship inspired the community to really make something of this event. A theme was chosen for the first time, "Jewels of Temple City", and youth groups were invited to enter miniature floats, ranging all the way from decorated doll buggies and bicycles, up to plywood mounted on a coaster wagon. Some 23 floats turned up for the parade. Also added this year was a carnival, coronation pageant written by Blaine Bender and Gomer Cool, and monies derived were to be used to establish a Temple City Youth Center. Civic and Service groups enthusiastically plunged in to do the necessary work. "Uncle" Phil Memole wrote the Camellia Festival March, the King and Queen who were crowned on Friday night, opened the carnival immediately following the ceremony, and folks of the community felt the Youth Center was assured.
Morning dawned bright and clear, the parade went off without a hitch, everyone adjourned to the carnival, and then came the rain! Organizations who had worked long and hard to plan moneymaking booths could only hastily pack their wares and head for home. Martin Shows closed shop and the festival was over. At the Chamber of Commerce meeting following, service and civic groups reported a profit of $381.00 to be turned over to the Chamber of Commerce for the expenses and Youth Center. Directors of the Chamber felt that every penny should be used to establish the Youth Center Fund, and therefore, voted to assume the expenses of the Festival itself.
In 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.
It was in recognition of the significance of family life to its residents that the Camellia Festival was founded. Its purpose of encouraging every young person in the community to belong to a recognized youth organization and to participate in the affairs of their city is still the action of the day.
The Camellia Festival Parade is held the last Saturday in February of each year. Floats are designed and decorated by youngsters. Pride in the festival goes so deep that commercial floats and motor-driven vehicles are not allowed in the parade. Every service and civic organization in the town is assigned to a specific phase of the festival and the whole community goes all out for the benefit of its youngsters, as well as children of neighboring communities.
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. Another link toward the betterment of our community. Since then we have had a Coronation and Reception on the first Friday of February, when we crown the King and Queen and present the public with the new Royalty Court. From then until parade day the Royal Court visits the many service organizations in Temple City.
It is the hope of the Camellia Festival Committee that this years Annual Camellia Festival will provide support and guidance to our youth by enabling them to take part in a worthwhile community project - a project that is structured to instill in our youth the importance of working toward a common goal.
SPONSORED BY: THE CITY OF TEMPLE CITY
TEMPLE CITY CAMELLIA FESTIVAL
9701 LAS TUNAS DRIVE
TEMPLE CITY, CALIFORNIA 91780