History of the Daffodil Marine Festival


1925 - Daffodils came to the Puyallup Valley to replace the area’s dying hop industry.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommended bulb growing because of the Valley’s excellent soil and ideal climate.

1926 - The Daffodil Festival began on April 6, 1926 when Mr. and Mrs. Charles W. Orton were hosts to civic leaders from 12 towns in Western Washington.  After the first garden party, the event became an annual affair.
1932- Year after year, interest grew, (along with the ever-expanding daffodil fields) until 1932, at which time “Bulb Sunday” came into being.  The viewing of the daffodils in bloom became fashionable, but unfortunately created a massive traffic problem for Puyallup, Sumner and Orting, as up to 8,000 vehicles, crowded the roads bordering the Golden fields.  Because of the congestion it brought “Bulb Sunday” to a halt.
1934 became the “Parade Year.”  Lee Merrill, a well-known Tacoma photographer and first secretary of the founding Daffodilians suggested that the Daffodil blooms, which at that time were thrown away or used as fertilizer, be used instead, as decorations of a Festival Parade. Automobiles and bicycles were decorated with daffodils.  A mounted contingent of the finest riding horses in the area also appeared each year.  The idea grew and presently, the Grand Floral Street parade travels through four Pierce County communities on Parade Day – Tacoma, Puyallup, Sumner and Orting.
1937 - The first annual Tacoma Yacht Club Daffodil Regatta was held.  The Regatta was kicked off with a dinner and entertainment for the TYC skippers of the power and sail fleets (By the way, this was a stag event.  Where were the women?)  For Sunday’s Regatta, the sailboats sailed from the city buoy to Brown’s Point, thence to the Old Town Dock and back to the city buoy.  The power boat race followed.
1947 -  TYC injected a parade of flower decked cabin cruisers in tribute to Puyallup Valley’s multi-million-dollar bulb industry.  Sunday started with a sailboat race followed by the decorated boat parade.  It traveled from the Tacoma Yacht Club along the shoreline of Commencement Bay and back to TYC. 
1952-58 -  TYC invited Puget Sound and International boats to participate in the annual TYC Daffodil Marine Festival and it became a three day event.  200 boats participated in the parade along Commencement Bay!  The visiting boats on entering the Club’s Basin were met by the Sea Cadets, who assisted in berthing the cruisers.
1952 -  The Festival began having “Themes”for the weekend.  Friday night was a get-together dance.  Saturday morning, busses were furnished to transport guests and members to the special grandstands to view the big street Daffodil Parade of floats and marching units.  The bussing activity continued through the 80’s.  In the evening, events included a dance, supper and Bingo.  On Sunday morning, Tacoma Outboard Association (TOA) performed with maneuvers, while a sailboat race was in progress in Commencement Bay.  Before the parade began, there was a colorful exhibition by the City Fire Boat.  The Queen and her court viewed the parade from the yacht “Thea Foss,” the queen’s official ship for the festivities, which was anchored at the Old Town Dock.  TYC continued to host a sail boat race during the Daffodil Marine Festival until the mid 90’s.
1994 - TYC began it’s 1st Inter-club Marine Pursuit Challenge.  Our 1st Flag Ceremony also took place that year, to recognize local and visiting dignitaries, visiting Commodores, TYC Flag Officers and the Daffodil Queen and her Royal Court.

1997 -  The Costumed Token Parade was introduced.  The Costumed Tokens are the visiting Yacht Club team’s cheer leaders.  Each year the focus of the Trivia Contest changes.  It has been a popular event ever since. 

The TYC Daffodil Marine Festival is now scheduled one week after the Grand Daffodil Street Parade.

The Daffodil Festival has been held every year, with the exceptions of 1943, 1944, 1945 due to World War II and 2020, because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Tacoma Yacht Club has continued to host it’s Daffodil Marine Festival for 82 years!


Daffodil History (with photos) by Year:

Click on the link to view or download.