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UPDATE: Rose Festival makes PeeDee available for selfies.



TRIBUNE PHOTO: JOHN VINCENT - PGE/SOLV Starlight Parade Chairman Jeff Deering and TSA officer Andrea Green present the PDX Carpet as Grand Marshall of the 2015 Rose Festival Starlight Parade.In a scene right out of IFC’s "Portlandia," Portland International Airport's social media-darling carpet has been named the grand marshal of the May 30 Portland General Electric/SOLV Starlight Parade.

Transportation Safety Administration officers Edmund Gray and Andrea Green escorted a roll of carpet to an airport press conference Friday morning, March 20, as dozens of onlookers snapped photos of the icon with their cell phones. Friday marked the airport’s inaugural PDX Carpet Festival, with dozens of carpet-themed souvenirs available to travelers.

Rose Festival officials nicknamed the roll of carpet PeeDee.

Last year, the 28-year-old carpet was walked on by an all-time record 15.9 million passengers who traveled through PDX. In October, PDX celebrates its 75th anniversary.

"In any other city in this country it would likely be considered weird to name a carpet as grand marshal of a major parade, but this is Portland, Oregon, and we do weird very well here," said Jeff Deering, chairman of the PGE/SOLVE Starlight Parade. "This carpet and its iconic pattern just blew up on social media with people from all over the world snapping off foot selfies before it's gone. It was just too much fun to ignore."

“Just when we thought we had seen the PDX Carpet reach the pinnacle of popularity, we get yet another pleasant surprise,” said Stan Watters, Port of Portland project and technical services director. “It’s an honor to have the Portland Rose Festival select the PDX Carpet as the Starlight Parade’s Grand Marshal, and a fitting tribute to the city’s welcome mat.”

Rose Festival officials said late Friday that PeeDee was so popular that they would make the carpet roll available on Thursday, March 26, for selfies. PeeDee will pose with folks from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Rose Festival office, 1020 S.W. Naito Parkway.

Illuminated history

The Portland General Electric/SOLV Starlight Parade is one of the Rose Festival’s signature events. It draws more than 325,000 spectators along its 2.25-mile route winding through downtown Portland. The parade is much more informal than the Rose Festival Grand Floral Parade. The Starlight Parade attracts unusual floats, weirdly costumed runners and a host of just plain oddball characters.

The Starlight Parade continues a festival tradition dating back to the early 1900s, when illuminated floats built on electric trolley cars made their way through the city on trolley tracks. Today, about 100 illuminated entries along the downtown route.

The old PDX carpet recently took on cult status, mostly through social media, once the Port of Portland announced plans to replace it. On Jan. 23, crews with Portland’s 4M Flooring began ripping up nearly 13 acres of the teal and blue carpet as part of a $13 million replacement project. The carpet installed in 1987 became a travelers’ favorite, inspiring online photos of feet on the pattern and a string of products.

Replacing the old carpet is just the first step in a collection of projects known as PDXNext. The nearly $190 million in improvements planned for the airport between 2015 and 2017 include 11 new shops and restaurants opening by April; remodeling of the federal inspection station to improve service to international passengers; relocating and expanding security checkpoints and developing new waiting areas; and extending Concourse E with construction beginning this fall.

The carpet replacement project was designed and created with the help of Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects of Portland; Hennebery Eddy Architects Inc. of Portland; Emerick Construction Co. of Happy Valley; Rubenstein’s of Portland; 4M Flooring of Portland; and J+J Flooring Solutions of Dalton, Ga., which fabricated the new carpet.

Although its Twitter feed hasn’t taken off with the same excitement as @pdxcarpet, the new carpet features a greener design, and a greener history with the inclusion of recycled plastics.

The project is expected to be complete by November.

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