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1967 Lilac Princess Reminisces

Ann GillespieFor one night every spring, the streets of downtown Spokane transform from an urban center to a light filled spectacle! Celebrating its 75th year, the Lilac Festival is here once again and will be capped off on Saturday with the iconic Armed Forces Torchlight Parade.

There are many facets to the parade, but no one can deny that one of the most watched for displays is the float full of beaming Lilac Princesses. I sat down with Ann Gillespie, who was a Lilac Princess in 1967, to ask her a few details about her experience:

Let's start with the basics. When were you a Lilac Princess?
I was a princess in 1967. I represented Central Valley High School.

Oh, did you know this year's queen is from Central Valley?
I did!

What did you have to do to be selected?
At that time, the process was a little different than what it is now. The teachers at our school nominated 12 girls and then we each gave a speech in front of the school. I was selected by my classmates!

What is your most memorable experience from being a Lilac Princess?
Spending a whole week at The Davenport Hotel was something I will never forget. Staying up late with the girls and being treated like a "princess" was so much fun!

Did you have any embarrassing moments?
Yes! Once, during a TV interview, I was fumbling over my words, I'm still not really sure what I was saying. Then, I turned around to leave once it was over and ran into a wall!

Ouch! It seems that whenever I see the princesses they are always dressed in the same outfits and you can't forget about the beautiful gowns they wear during the parade. What were your outfits like?
We had one dress suit that we wore to luncheons and interviews that was, of course, purple, and had a matching pillbox hat. We had a gown that we wore as well, but it was more sleek and traditional than the big cupcake dresses you see today.

What was your favorite part of being in the parade?
The whole event was so exciting! Hearing people cheer for us and feeling the enthusiasm from the crowd as we passed by was a lot of fun.

When watching the parade now, what is your favorite part?
I really enjoy the marching bands!

What advice would you give to someone wanting to become a Lilac Princess?
I would say, go for it! It is such a great experience. It helps to be yourself, and of course, practice your speeches so you don't forget them on TV!

Learn more about the Lilac Festival here. Get to the parade early for the best seat!

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