Parade of Champions: Camas Days Grand Parade to celebrate award-winning coaches

Annual parade brings people downtown to celebrate community, Camas history

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category icon Camas Days
The history and community of Camas is on display during past Camas Days Grand Parade. This year's theme is "Once Upon A Time." The 2017 Camas Days Grand Parade starts at 11 a.m. Saturday, and runs down Fourth Avenue between Oak and Adams streets. (Post-Record File photo)

“Once Upon A Time” sounds like the perfect theme to bring out the creativity in Camas.

The Camas Days Grand Parade starts at 11 a.m. Saturday, and marches down Fourth Avenue, between Oak and Adams streets.

This year’s parade will be led by two state-championship coaches. Jon Eagle serves as a grand marshal after coaching the Camas High School football team to the Class 4A state championship. The Papermakers went 14-0, capping it off with a 24-14 victory against Richland in the state title game Dec. 3, 2016, at the Tacoma Dome.

“I’ve been taking my kids to this parade for years, and the fact that I’m going to be right in the middle of it is pretty humbling,” Eagle said.

“It’s small-town Americana,” he added. “I’m looking forward to a nice, dry day and just enjoying the festivities from that perspective.”

Michelle Pillette is the other grand marshal for this year’s Camas Days parade. An assistant coach for the reigning 4A state championship CHS girls soccer team, Pillette helped the Papermakers go 21-0-1 in 2016 and outscore opponents 89-2. Out of 20,000 high school girls soccer team tracked during that season, MaxPreps ranked Camas No. 1 in the nation.

Doug Quinn has announced the Camas Days Grand Parade since 1999. He said this event has become such a staple because Brent Erickson and the C-W Chamber of Commerce keep the entry fees low, helping local businesses and nonprofits show off their community spirit with their parade floats. The annual parade also attracts church and daycare groups, horse ranches, dance teams, gymnastics centers, martial arts academies, little leagues and more. Politicians use the parade as an opportunity to reach out to people and shake a lot of hands. The police, fire departments, and city council members, also particpate.

“It’s a full community celebration in a sense that it involves all the different parties,” Quinn said. “I think that is pretty unique — the smooth and collaborative friendships that we have make this a good celebration of Camas.”

Barry Lutz will join Quinn in the announcing booth this year. He is the father of Aaron Lutz, owner of Lutz Hardware. Aaron is missing Camas Days this year because of a milestone celebration with his wife, but Quinn said Barry should be a suitable substitute.

“He’s a great guy, and he knows the community well,” Quinn said of Barry. “He’ll know everybody in the parade. That’s the beauty of it. That’s Camas for you.”

Quinn believes the Camas Days Grand Parade will continue to celebrate the presence of community and families all wrapped together.

“This is one of the stand-by events that draws so many people to the streets of Camas,” he said. “That’s the one point that defines community for me — to see people coming together on the street, celebrating their community. That’s good stuff. That will keep our town stitched together and healthy for a lot of years.”