The festival began in 1954 with a 10-float children’s parade featuring a 5-year-old Miss Blossom.
This year’s 61st Pear Blossom Parade will have 150 entries and 4,000 participants. Organizers anticipate 25,000 to 30,000 spectators will line the parade route on April 12. Parade marshals have included Sen. John F. Kennedy in 1960 and runner Frank Shorter in 1977. Shorter, marathon gold medal winner at the 1972 Summer Olympics, led the festival’s first annual mini-marathon.
Other activities will include a baby contest, junior and senior royal pageants, 5-K and 10-mile runs, a street fair and a stamp show.
The street fair will be held Friday and Saturday, April 11 and 12, and the runs will be on Saturday. This year’s fair will be located in the new Commons Park Blocks in the center of Medford’s downtown business district.
The festival is the most important fund-raising event for the Heart of Medford Association, organized to increase participation and cooperation of businesses in the downtown area and to bring foot traffic back to the district.