Living History Program

Bringing History to Life!

An educational initiative, the Rose Festival Living History Program helps bring both Portland and Rose Festival history to life for festival-goers and local students. This year the award-winning program focuses on three exciting characters: W.J. Hofmann, Thelma O. Hollingsworth and Silas Christofferson [see bios below].

W.J. Hofmann (the first Prime Minister of the Royal Rosarians) comes to us from the early 20th Century, when the Rosarians were first formed. Thelma Hollingsworth (the first elected Rose Festival Queen), joins us from the second half of the 20th Century, and Silas Christofferson (the bold, young aviator who flew off the Multnomah Hotel back in 1912) recalls the excitement and triumph of being an inventor and flyer in the bygone days of the biplane!

Living History Presentations are being offered during the month of April at local grade schools.

For more information, contact Marilyn Clint:

Living History Characters:

W.J. Hofmann

The 'Duke of Portland' and Portland's First Prime Minister
(1871 - 1945)

W.J. was a successful leader and businessman who helped form the Royal Rosarians. He operated the Multnomah Hotel (today the Embassy Suites downtown) and was a powerful motivator who recruited Portland businessmen to join him in visiting out-of-town festivals. Together these men hatched the idea for a group of men who would both represent Portland and host visitors. The Royal Rosarians were officially formed in June of 1912, with W.J. serving as their very first Prime Minister.

Thelma O. Hollingsworth

Portland Rose Festival's First Queen
(1896 - 1984)

Back in 1914 the Rose Festival decided to identify a queen through a competition among young Portland businesswomen. Thelma -- an attractive 17-year-old, go-getter -- was asked by her boss to take part, representing the Harriman Transportation Club of railroad workers. One of 24 contestants, Thelma and her 11 'maids of honor' appeared all over Portland and the Pacific Northwest. Always fun-loving, Thelma spent her life representing the Rose Festival, still making appearances late in life.

Silas Christofferson

Bold-Flying 'Bird-Man'
(1890 - 1915)

Silas Christofferson was a charming daredevil. Both an automobile and motorboat racer, he began experimenting with flying his Curtis bi-plane over Portland at a young age. Silas was only 22 when he planned a spectacular stunt: He would to fly off the top of the Multnomah Hotel (now the Embassy Suites Downtown) over to Vancouver, Washington. On June 9, 1912 more than 50,000 bystanders watched -- most likely expecting a disaster. A mighty roar went up as Silas gracefully took off from the top of the hotel and 12 minutes later landed safely in what is now Pearson field in Vancouver, Washington. Join us in celebrating Silas' aviation feat during the 2013 Rose Festival!

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