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Thomasville Rose Festival This Weekend

Four red roses in a purple vase on a wood table
Tom Flanigan

Images of past parades will stand in for the real thing, but there will be lots of real-life activities as the celebration hits the century mark.

Tallahassee isn't the only town that's edging its way back into in-person events and festivals. The neighboring city of Thomasville is bringing back its signature Rose Festival this coming weekend with a few twists.
For Events Coordinator for the City of Thomasville Madison Eaton, this year's Rose Festival is a historic milestone.

"We are super-excited for the 100th this year!"

What better time, she noted, to recall the many Rose Festivals that came before. Especially the ever-popular parades.

"When we look back at those pictures from the 50s, 60s, and 70s, there are thousands of people lining Broad and West Jackson streets. It's insane the number of people that would line up early in the morning for that daytime Rose Parade."

Of course, social distancing remains the way of the world this year. So Eaton said Rose Parades of the past will be on pictorial display.

"The public will be able to see some of those floats if they come to our Friday event. Since we're not able to have the traditional parade this year, we're having the 'Historic Parade Experience,' which pays tribute to the parades back in the day essentially. And we'll have some of those parade pictures blown up on these displays. And they'll be double-sided all the way down Broad Street and the street will be closed so it's like an exhibit."

Eaton said the Rose Festival will actually be underway before the weekend.

"So on Thursday, we start with a community event based around our police inspection. That starts at 6:30 p.m. The streets will be closed and it's an awesome view of all of our police cars lined up down Broad Street. And their uniforms, as well as their cars, will be inspected. And it's a great community event to bring people out to meet our police officers."

Of course, any festival worthy of the name will have a lot of food available.

"All throughout that weekend you'll be able to go to different restaurants listed in the brochure and website. They will have cocktails or desserts or specific food dedicated to roses."

That will be combined with another downtown Thomasville celebration that has gained lots of popularity since it started a few years back.

"Friday night is a 'Sip and Shop' with street band music during the Historic Parade Experience. So from 5 until 9 there will be that whole Friday night experience."

Eaton said some traditional Festival offerings will be relocated.

"We've had 'Art in the Park' in Paradise Park and those have been moved to the downtown area to the Ritz Amphitheatre to make everything more centrally located. So we will have the Civic Garden Club ribbon-cutting downtown on Stevens Street. And then we'll have a new festival-within-the-festival called 'Rose Fest Market' at the Ritz."

There are plenty of other activities connected with the Rose Festival.

"We will have the 'Rose City Golf Classic' as well as the 'Show and Shine Car and Truck Show' from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. for the men. So when the husbands come with their wives who are wanting to look at and buy flowers, the men can go to the other side of Broad Street and check out the cars in the car show."

There is much more to see and do as Thomasville's Rose Festival hits the century mark this week.

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Tom Flanigan has been with WFSU News since 2006, focusing on covering local personalities, issues, and organizations. He began his broadcast career more than 30 years before that and covered news for several radio stations in Florida, Texas, and his home state of Maryland.

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