2014 Rose Parade: Floats are the stars in Pasadena on New Year’s Day

Controversy concerning Rose Parade floats is nothing new, but most viewers only care about the spectacle and beauty of the floral displays. Photo: AP Photo / Reed Saxon

SAN DIEGO, December 30, 2013 – For two hours of glory along the parade route and mere moments on national and international television coverage, It takes months of planning and construction including several frenzied days applying the final decoration to put the magnificent floats of the Tournament of Roses Parade together.

It will be no different for the 125th annual edition of the Parade on Wednesday, January 1, which begins at 11 a.m. Eastern.

As you read this, 45 floats entered in this year’s parade are getting their final touches in warehouses and storage areas near the famous parade route through the city of Pasadena, California. Thousands of volunteers work to place the natural material decorations including flower petals, leaves, bark, seeds, and other items on the surface of each float. Every single float must have all surfaces covered with natural materials, nothing artificial permitted.

The average cost of a float can be several hundred thousand dollars, but the visibility and bragging rights for companies and organizations that enter can be priceless.

The theme is selected the third week in January. This year it was on January 18, 2013.  It’s a big one for the parade’s quasquicentennial year (and yes, I had to look it up). It’s “Dreams Come True.” The 2014 Rose Parade float designers then spent the next year planning their float design around the theme, choosing materials, and putting the floats infrastructure together. The final coverings must be done only days or even hours before the parade, as many of the natural materials have a limited shelf life. It is all part of the excitement and fun of the Rose Parade. 

A three-judge panel chosen by the Tournament of Roses committee scores the floats on a variety of criteria including the design, best use of materials, best interpretation of the theme, and animation. The judges review the floats in two sessions during their final decoration. The results are combined to determine the winners in each category and the names are provided to the networks covering the parade.

Larger than life floats are covered entirely in natural materials at the Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year’s Day in Pasadena, California. Photo: Associated Press.

Of the 45 floats entered, only 39 will compete for the two dozen trophies available:

Sweepstakes Trophy for most beautiful entry
Animation Trophy for best display of animation
Craftsman Trophy for outstanding showmanship and dramatic impact over 55 feet in length
Crown City Innovation Trophy for Best use of imagination and innovation to advance the art of float design
Directors’ Trophy Honoring Jacob Maarse for outstanding artistic merit in design and floral presentation
Extraordinaire Trophy for most spectacular entry including floats that cannot retract to 55 feet in length
Fantasy Trophy for best display of fantasy and imagination
Founders’ Trophy for most beautiful entry built and decorated by volunteers from the sponsoring community or organization
Governor’s Trophy for Best depiction of life in California
Grand Marshal’s Trophy for most creative concept and design
Bob Hope Humor Trophy for most comical and amusing
International Trophy for most beautiful entry from outside the United States
Isabella Coleman Trophy for best presentation of color and color harmony
Judges’ Special Trophy for outstanding showmanship and dramatic impact
Lathrop K. Leishman Trophy for most beautiful entry from a non-commercial sponsor
Mayor’s Trophy for Most outstanding city entry
National Trophy for Best depiction of life in the United States

Past Presidents’ Trophy for most innovative use of both floral and non floral materials
President’s Trophy for most effective use and presentation of flowers
Princesses’ Trophy most beautiful entry under 35 feet in length
Queen’s Trophy for best use of roses
Theme Trophy for best presentation of the Rose Parade theme
Tournament Special Trophy for exceptional merit in multiple classifications
Tournament Volunteers’ Trophy for best floral design of parade theme under 35 feet in length

The Sea World float is drawing protests following the depiction of mistreatment of the marine park’s killer whales and other animals in a documentary film. Photo: Courtesy Tournament of Roses.

Two of the entries this year are drawing protests. Aboard the AIDS Healthcare Foundation float, a same sex couple will be married during the parade. The Sea World parks float is drawing backlash due to the documentary film “Blackfish” accusing the marine theme park of mistreating its killer whales and other animals.

These floats along with the bands, horses and escorts travel five-and-a-half miles along the parade route, which takes approximately two to three hours assuming no serious problems along the way (broken down floats, for example).

If you are in the Southern California area, you can experience the magic of the floats up close after the parade the afternoon of January 1 and all day January 2 parked along Sierra Madre and Washington Boulevards in Pasadena. The Showcase of Floats lets you step up close to the floral displays and also enjoy the beautiful scent of the flowers. You can also download a two-hour audio tour of the floats from iTunes free. Don’t forget a camera.

If you can’t make it in person, watching and joining our live Communities Rose Parade chat is the next best thing to being there. We’ll provide background information and feature your comments about all the bands, floats, equestrian units and more. It all starts at 11 a.m. Eastern on New Year’s Day.

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. Read more Media Migraine in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.

Please credit “Gayle Falkenthal for Communities at WashingtonTimes.com” when quoting from or linking to this story.   

Copyright © 2013 by Falcon Valley Group

This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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Gayle Falkenthal

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, MS, APR, is President of the Falcon Valley Group, a San Diego based communications consulting firm. Falkenthal is a veteran award winning broadcast and print journalist, editor, producer, talk host and commentator. She is an instructor at National University in San Diego, and previously taught in the School of Journalism & Media Studies at San Diego State University.


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