Happy 2016, folks!
One of the first events to regularly kick off the new year here in Southern California is the Rose Parade in Pasadena. I’ve actually never been to the actual parade, but last week, I did go to the Post Parade float viewing event with my friend, Rona. I have gone to see the floats once before as a child, but it was cool to go check them out again to admire just how detailed these behemoths could actually be. The floats are generally decorated primarily out of natural materials like flowers, seeds, leaves, and other forms of vegetation.
We opted to find street parking around Pasadena, which actually was not as difficult as we expected, though we did have to walk for about fifteen minutes or so to get to the entrance. Admission was $10 and allowed you to roam the closed-off streets to take a closer look at the floats.
The Rose Parade began in 1890 and has since become an annual event that is broadcast in the United States on New Year’s Day. 46 floats were on display at the Post Parade, so here are some that I thought were interesting or noteworthy in some way.
Each year, the floats are decorated under a different theme, with the 2016 theme being “Find Your Adventure”. Some floats did a pretty good job of conveying that theme, while others were a stretch. Bears and bicycles ended up being a recurring theme to represent the idea of adventure on many of this year’s floats.
DISNEYLAND RESORT // “DIAMOND CELEBRATION”
This was the first float that we saw when we entered the event. It’s broken into three parts: the front representing Frozen, the middle featuring Sleeping Beauty Castle, and the back dedicated to the Star Wars franchise. Disneyland is currently celebrating sixty years since the park opened. I thought the Diamond Celebration would end once 2016 hit, but I guess they are partying for a full year from the actual anniversary date. (Award won: Extraordinaire Trophy – Most spectacular float) [X]
DOLE // “SOARING OVER PARADISE”
Floats that featured a lot of vibrant colors tended to stand out to me much more than others and I thought the Dole float did a great job creating a jungle scene with a bunch of different animals. (Award won: Director’s Trophy – Outstanding artistic merit in design and floral presentation) [X]
CALIFORNIA MILK ADVISORY BOARD // “ADVENTURES IN REAL FOOD”
At first, I thought this float didn’t really fit the theme other than through its name, but based on the concept art, it looks like there were people who were “rafting” down a milky river on top of food made from various dairy products like pizza, grilled cheese, and a baked potato topped with butter. Just looking at this float made me a little hungry, but luckily enough, there were a couple booths nearby handing out free samples of various cheeses. Awesome. (Award won: Tournament Special Trophy – Exceptional merit in multiple classifications) [X]
PUBLIC BROADCASTING SERVICE (PBS) // “DOWNTON ABBEY: THE FINAL ADVENTURE”
The PBS float focused on the TV series Downton Abbey and it was GORGEOUS. I don’t even watch the show, but I think the float was the most beautiful at the parade and it might even be my favorite. Over 60,000 roses in 20 different varieties were used on this float. (Award won: Queen’s Trophy – Most effective display and use of roses in design, concept, and presentation) [X]
THE BACHELOR // “LOVE IS THE GREATEST ADVENTURE”
How cheesy is this title? Downton Abbey wasn’t the only show being represented on the float. I do have to admit that I am actually surprised that ABC’s The Bachelor is part of the Rose Parade in the first place, but I guess the show does feature rose ceremonies to decide who moves on in the competition. In any case, this one was pretty nice. (Award won: President’s Trophy – Most effective floral use and presentation) [X]
LOS ANGELES LAKERS // “EVERY SECOND IS AN ADVENTURE”
I grew up in a Lakers family, so I had to include this, especially since Kobe Bryant announced that he’ll be retiring at the end of this season. The purple and gold come from thousands of Florigene Moonlite carnations and Kerio roses, while the giant basketball is made out of red lentil. Both former player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and former Laker Girl Paula Abdul were on the float during the parade. (Award won: Judge’s Special Trophy – Most spectacular in showmanship and dramatic impact) [X]
AMERICAN HONDA // “NATURE’S HOPE”
Honda has been the main sponsor of the Rose Parade since 2011. The 2016 float depicted national parks from both the United States and Japan and there were several booths from the National Park Service nearby. This year is the National Park Service’s centennial and Rona and I got a junior ranger handbook from one of the booths. At various floats throughout the Post Parade, there were volunteers who would stamp the handbook. After getting ten stamps, you could take an oath and get a junior ranger badge. We are now junior rangers. [X]
SOUTH DAKOTA DEPARTMENT OF TOURISM // THE GREAT FACES AND GREAT PLACES OF SOUTH DAKOTA
I’ve been to South Dakota once to see Mount Rushmore back when I was in high school, but this float makes me really want to go again. This year is the 75th anniversary of the completion of Mount Rushmore National Monument and I feel like that’s already a great excuse to go. [X]
UNION BANK AND THE AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION, WESTERN STATES AFFILIATE // “UNION OF HEARTS”
Union Bank and the American Heart Association has been in a partnership for the past three decades, and that relationship is commemorated with the giant 30 on the back of this float. The coolest thing that I found out about this float actually has nothing to do with the flowers. During the parade, “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees was playing from the float. Besides being a song about staying alive (the AHA’s main goal is to reduce death due to heart disease and stroke), it is also used a song to remember the beat of the chest compression rate during CPR. I think that I am still CPR certified… [X]
CITY OF LOS ANGELES // “DISCOVER LOS ANGELES”
I really liked this float and thought that it represented LA pretty well. There was a giant sun and several LA landmarks including LAX, the Hollywood Bowl, the Hollywood Sign, the Chinese Theatre, and Griffith Observatory. Everything on one side was replicated on the other, so parade-goers didn’t miss out on either side of the float. Mayor Eric Garcetti was one of the people riding on the float during the parade. (Award won: Mayor’s Trophy – Most outstanding city entry, national or international) [X]
CAL POLY UNIVERSITIES // “SWEET SHENANIGANS”
This float was pretty adorable and featured a bunch of gummy bears having fun. Chrysanthemums were used for the bears, roses and Gerbera daisies were used for the ice cream, and the waffle cone was made out of blended flax seed. Apparently, more than 90 percent of the materials used to decorate the float were grown in California. (Award won: Lathrop K. Leishman Trophy – Most beautiful non-commercial float) [X]
SIERRA MADRE ROSE FLOAT ASSOCIATION // “ROLLIN’ ON THE RIVER”
Since it win the award for best animation, this was the only float that was moving while on display. The flamingos were spinning or bobbing back and forth while the song “Rollin’ on the River” was blaring in the background. This one was one of my favorite too. (Award won: Animation Trophy – Best animation and motion) [X]
SOUTH PASADENA TOURNAMENT OF ROSES ASSOCIATION // “FISHING FOLLIES”
I thought this one was funny, though I do wonder how a bear fishing up a man won an award for being the best depiction of life in the USA from the past, present, or future. Shall we expect giant ursine overlords in the years to come? As a side note, the back end of the float with the goat and the dynamite reminded me a lot of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disneyland. (Award won: National Trophy – Best depiction of life in U.S.A., past, present, or future) [X]
BURBANK TOURNAMENT OF ROSES ASSOCIATION // “ARE WE THERE YET?”
I thought this one was pretty funny as well. It features a family of trash pandas who are heading out for their last vacation before summer ends and school starts again. Of course, a bear needs to make an appearance as well. (Award won: Theme Trophy – Excellence in presenting parade theme) [X]
STANFORD CARDINALS VS. IOWA HAWKEYES
Stanford played against Iowa in the Rose Bowl game this year. Stanford won 45-16. These are their floats.
The theme for the 2017 Rose Parade floats will be announced later this month on January 21, 2016. I now have three more life goals to add to the list: volunteer to help decorate a Rose Parade float, wake up early enough on New Year’s Day to actually make it out to Pasadena to watch the parade live, and ride a float during the Rose Parade. The first two seem pretty reasonable and I can probably achieve that easily sometime in the next few years. Now to figure out how to make my way on top of one of these things…