Texas Rose Festival officials kicked off the 79th annual event with a ribbon cutting and prayer service Thursday at the Tyler Rose Garden. The group met amidst a backdrop of the garden center's display which features nearly 8,000 blooms and a pouncing dragon as well as other motifs inspired by eastern culture.
“About 80 years ago the peach crop failed and farmers in East Texas had to figure out what they were going to do to make a living so they decided to start growing roses,” he said. “The Rose Festival was born.”
With the help of the Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce, the Texas Rose Festival Association wishes to promote the area and civic volunteerism through activities over the next three days.
Alexander said the city is blessed by the legacy, and aspire to spread East Texas hospitality to the rest of the world.
“We've built a wonderful tradition Tyler and Smith County can really be proud of,” he said.
Rose Queen Haley McGrede Anderson, Duchess Joy Lynn Ramey, and the organizations' officers reflected on the blessings resulting from the rose industry.
“In John 1:16 we are told that, 'from the fullness of his grace we all have received one blessing after another,” Miss Anderson said. “God has blessed our city and its visitors with magnificent roses. This weekend, we are not only celebrating the beauty of roses but we can see God's work at hand.
Miss Ramey echoed the sentiment.
“We are blessed beyond words to live in this most special place we call home, the city of roses,” she said. “It is my heartfelt open prayer that during this weekend — the tea, the rose show, the coronation and the parade — that we will all be personally reminded of the blessings and privileges to grow in this most special place.”
Many families and Tyler transplants have made their mark on the annual traditions over the years. Among them is the Anderson family, whose daughter is queen and their oldest daughter, Virginia, was the duchess last year. Rowe Anderson is serving as president of the Order of the Rose and is father of the queen.
“It's a privilege,” Anderson said. “I feel honored to play both of those parts and honored to be a citizen of Tyler.”
Anderson said the morning's event, particularly the prayer service, reminded guests what is important while they celebrate the festival amid great pageantry.
“We do need to keep it in perspective, know what's really important—that all blessings do come from God,” he said.
He added, “We hope that everyone comes out to the tea and the parade because it's about the community.”
Julie Dawson, executive director of the Texas Rose Festival Association, noted that the series of events is ultimately about having fun, which was also pointed about by prayer service speaker Dr. John Robbins, pastor of Marvin Methodist Church.
“It's a festival that is supposed to celebrate our identity,” she said. “If they see how much fun we are having here, in addition to all of the beautiful roses, why wouldn't they want to join us? Why wouldn't they want to live here?”