Tri-Cities Water Follies

Pasco-Kennewick-Richland, Washington


Annual events include/have included: The Cavalcade of Drums D&BC show, parades, unlimited hydroplane races, boat races, a western show, the Blue Angels (jets), swim meet, talent shows, beauty contests, food, and a whole lotta fun.


The Drum Corps Show

The first “Water Follies / Cavalcade of Drums” drum corps show was held July 16, 1960, hosted by the Pasco Junior Legion Drum & Bugle Corps, later known as the Columbians.  This was their home show.

The last Cavalcade of Drums, corps show was July 14, 1973. 

No Columbians show in 1974 or in 1975.  They disbanded at the end of the 1975 season.


The Downtown Pasco Water Follies Parade.  

The Water Follies celebration originated in Pasco in 1941.  This is where most of the happenings took place, including the parade, which was the climatic event.

In 1960, the Pasco Water Follies was renamed the “Tri-Cities Water Follies” to reflect the participation of the entire community.  The main events were relocated to Columbia Park.  The adult parade was still in Pasco and the kiddie’s parade was in Richmond.

According to a friend who marched in the “short” downtown Pasco parade in 1960 and ‘61, the buildings reflected and intensified all that 90-degree heat back onto the street.  It was HOT!  But he believes that the Columbia Park parade conditions were worse due to its greater length, and almost total lack of spectators (except at the reviewing stand).  A parade without spectators?  What’s the point?  It’s antithetical.  And in that heat, it’s outright DIABOLICAL.

(Coincidentally, the Chairman of the Water Follies Grand Parade from 1959 thru 1962 was Earl Halverson, the manager of the Columbians)


The Columbia Park Parade.  AKA: “The Columbia Cooker”

1962 was the first year for the Columbia Park parade.

As corps members in the 70’s, we marched a lot of parades; I mean we marched an easy 10 or more parades a year.  It was an avenue to raise cash and sometimes it was a prerequisite for entering that evening’s show. 

I remember marching for MILES (4.5 to be exact) in the Columbia Park parade prior to the Columbians show.  On that desolate strip of asphalt in 90+ degree heat with almost NO SPECTATORS.  My feet were hot from the road, people fainted, your uniform clung to your sweaty body, and people ate salt tablets like M&M’s.  [I had never heard of salt tablets before this parade.  Salt what?]

That parade tested your mettle, especially for those of us from the west side of the mountains who never saw 90-degree heat.  We were not acclimated to that.

It wasn’t until I wrote this article, did I realize the Columbians (the locals) did not wear their regular uniforms, but wore tennis shoes and shorts instead.  Smart.  Really smart.  We weren’t so smart.  We wore our standard bucks and wool pants.  Go figure.


The End?

The last Cavalcade of Drums was in 1973.  Has there been any drum corps marching through Columbia Park since then?  Have others relished the experience like we have?  We do not know.


That parade was a rite of passage, a memorable event in a young life, and most importantly, it was fun.

Jan 28, 2021

Select photos to enlarge



1962 Seattle Thunderbirds

The first year of the Columbia Park parade route







1969 Bellevue Sentinels





1973 Seattle Shamrocks



Does anyone have more photos of this parade? 

The Hawks in 1972 had a real hard time at the parade (as did others).  Our parents helped get the Hawks’ kids cooled down by taking water and ice out to them while they were marching.  Brutal parade.  Legendary.




The 1974 Black Watch (Auburn, WA) tour schedule shows the July 13th event as the “Cavalcade of Drums” contest and “Hell Parade”.

Very cool!!


I’m telling you folks, there is no hyperbole on this page, just facts.  This brutal parade was a defining moment in a young life.

It was the most physically and mentally challenging parade most of us have ever done.

Simply awesome.