All around the Inland Northwest, lilacs in every shade of purple are at their peak, bursting with a sweet aroma and showy, blooming bunches. The violet-to-lavender-colored blossoms signal that one of the Lilac City’s biggest spring traditions is almost here: the Armed Forces Torchlight Parade. Though not native to our region, the first lilac bushes are thought to have traveled here from Minnesota in a trunk, way back in 1882, and were planted at a homestead in the Hillyard area. Who knows if that original bush was the mother of any still-living lilacs. It did, however, lead the way to civic leaders later declaring lilacs as Spokane’s flower, and establishing a community festival tradition that’s spanned the past seven and a half decades.