Nanaimo & Regina visit Portland Rose Festival

Portland Fire Department fire boat puts on a display as HMCS Regina comes alongside in Portland. Photo credit: HMCS Regina

Portland Fire Department fire boat puts on a display as HMCS Regina comes alongside in Portland. Photo credit: HMCS Regina

SLt M.A. Harris, HMCS Regina ~

HMCS Regina, in tandem with HMCS Nanaimo, visited Portland, Oregon, to participate in the 2018 Portland Rose Festival, honouring a long-standing tradition and representing Canada. 

An eight-hour transit through the narrow and winding Columbia River opened up to the beautiful city of Portland. The city, which has hosted the Rose Festival for over a century, graciously opened its arms to the Royal Canadian Navy along with the United States Navy (USN) and United States Coast Guard (USCG). Though Canada has been sending ships to participate for years, this was the first time a Halifax-class frigate has participated in over a decade.

Upon going under the first of several Portland bridges on a beautiful, but hot, sunny Wednesday, Regina was given a royal welcome. 

Police boats zoomed up and down the shoreline shining their lights, while local boaters waved and followed alongside. Police weren’t the only services on the water either; local fire departments put on a beautiful spectacle with coloured water cannons blasting high into the air with their lights at full brilliancy. 

The mist from the water cannons cooled the sailors on deck as they were greeted by cheers and friendly waves from Portlanders lining the shores and bridges. 

The hospitality did not stop there; sailors in their uniforms walking the streets had several kind words find their ears. Two phrases that were heard frequently were “welcome to Portland” and “thank you for your service.”  The streets were lined with welcome signs as local businesses showed appreciation by offering special deals for sailors.  Locals walking by often showed appreciation by treating sailors to a free drink or snack.

The five days alongside were not all about being treated splendidly, as the crew had a busy schedule of showing their appreciation by giving back and mingling with the community. 

For two days, Regina sent a contingent to volunteer at a local soup kitchen.  Many crewmembers also participated in The Grand Floral Parade, a city-wide event at a scale so grand one can only comprehend it by seeing it. Regina also hosted local leaders, USN and USCG personnel onboard for an evening affair of food, live music, and a massive red white and blue ice sculpture of a bald eagle.

In addition to this special event, Regina was open every day for an elaborate and educational tour through the ship. The tour had sailors in freshly ironed uniforms as white as their welcoming smiles every few metres, talking about life on board and answering every question imaginable. These tours brought in thousands of guests every day, each day more than the previous. 

A final thank you and safe travels was given over the radio as Regina departed.

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