Burbank and Sikh American floats had stories to tell in the 2020 Rose Parade

by Laura Berthold Monteros

For The Rose Examiner, the week between Boxing Day and the Showcase of Floats is packed with preparations for the Tournament of Roses Parade and visits to the barns to see the floats in the final stages. We especially like being able to talk to some of the people who are working on the floats.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been a couple weeks since we spoke with folks during Deco Week. We had conversations with Linda Cozakos and Erik C. Andersen at Burbank Tournament of Roses Association, and Harry Gill and Maninder Minu Singh, creative director of the Sikh American Float Foundation, in the Phoenix Decorating Company barn.

Be sure to check out the photos in the gallery below for the two floats in progress

Burbank “Rise Up”

Erik C. Andersen and Linda Cozakos explain the various choices of botanicals for the beak of the phoenix on “Rise Up.”

Burbank’s 88th Rose Parade entry won the Leishman Public Spirit Award for most outstanding floral design and display from a non-commercial participant. In keeping with the parade theme “The Power of Hope,” the float depicted a giant phoenix being reborn from the ashes of the 8,527 wildfires that destroyed 1,893,913 acres of homes, businesses, farmland, and wildland in California 2018. A waterfall in front, surrounded by lush vegetation, offered hope that the land will be renewed.

Named “Paradise” in honor of the town that was nearly wiped out in the Camp Fire—two of designer Lisa Long’s nephews battled the fire there—the bird’s body rose and fell and head turned side to side. In a first for Burbank, three fireballs shot out of the tail feathers.

We talked to Cozakos and Andersen about the florals used for the colors and textures on the phoenix. Floral decorators always keep an eye out for new materials or ways to use old ones, and the beak of the bird had a rather unusual choice.

Cozakos said the frilly acorn caps lining the top of the beak can only be found in Griffith Park on one particular tree. One of the members of BTORA discovered them and has returned to collect them as needed. Mustard seed, fava beans, dried mango, and two purple potatoes for nostrils completed the beak, with vermilion Chinese lanterns around the eyes.

The feathers on the face and body were whole magnolia leaves and palm leaves that had been torn into thin strips. The leaves were covered with ground yellow and orange marigolds, sumac, and paprika to simulate the fiery colors of the phoenix.

Remembering a different kind of tragedy, roses with the names of the Saugus High School shooting victims attached were on the float, as well as dried agapanthus from the school. The roses will be returned to the parents after the parade.

Sikh American “Planting Seeds of Hope”

Harry Gill and Minu Singh stand before the Sikh American float.

The theme of the Sikh American float was realized with a fanciful garden and rotating carousel filled with children of various ethnicities. Through selfless service to humanity with love, respect, compassion, and humility, Sikhs hope to nurture an environment in which children can grow and thrive.

A sculpture of  Bhai Ghaneya Singh sat at the front, pouring water out of a leather bag. Bhai Ghaneya was a compassionate man who carried water to the troops in the 1704 war of Anandpur Sahib. Harry Gill told us the story behind the image.

Bhai Ghaneya gave water to both the Sikhs and their Mughal enemies, thus planting seeds of love. For this, he was brought before Guru Gobind Singh. Bhai Ghaneya’s defense was “I see God in every one of them.” The Guru replied, “Give everyone water and also apply medicine on their wounds,” Gill said. “He’s the forerunner of the Red Cross, more than 300 years ago.”

Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, said “there is only one God of the whole world; the same light shines in every person,” Gill said, regardless of color, creed, or gender. “Even emperors are born of women.”

Award winning-floats in the 2020 Tournament of Roses Parade

Deco Week galleries

 

 

 

Royal Court opens Pasadena Visitors Hotline for 2020 Tournament of Roses

Tournament of Roses President Laura Farber surrounded by the Royal Court: Princesses Rukan Saif, Mia Thorsen, Emilie Risha, Queen Camille Kennedy, Princesses Reese Rosental Saporito, Michael Wilkins, Cole Fox

by Laura Berthold Monteros

With a snip of oversized goldens scissors, Rose Queen Camille Kennedy and the Tournament of Roses Royal Court opened the 36th Annual Visitors Hotline phone bank on Dec.11, two weeks earlier than usual. The Pasadena Convention and Visitors Bureau hosts the hotline to provide fast and accurate information about the 131st Rose Parade, 106th Rose Bowl Game, and the City of Pasadena.

Christine Susa, Director of Marketing and Communications for the Pasadena Convention and Visitors Center, told The Rose Examiner that the earlier calls are “less hectic” and more about hotels and the Rose Bowl Game teams than those that come after Christmas. “It’s more, ‘We just got our tickets, now what,” she said.

Lined up behind the wide red ribbon, the girls on the court grinned widely when Queen Camille cut the ribbon to officially open the hotline. Each station has a phone and bound book with all—or at least most—of the information volunteers need to help visitors to the 131st Tournament of Roses. The phones started ringing immediately, but we had a little time between calls to speak with the young women. One thing that is evident in watching and talking with this court is the way they enjoy each other. There was a lot of laughter this morning. Be sure to check out the gallery below!

College dreams and special birthdays

We started with Princess Reese Rosental Saporito, the youngest and tallest member of the Royal Court.

“She just turned 17 yesterday,” Queen Camille piped up. Reese said that she “doesn’t feel super different;” after all, she isn’t heads above the others (nor very much younger, though Dec. 31 is the deadline for Royal Court members to be at least 17.). She did acknowledge that sometimes she has to squat a bit for photos.

Camille has a birthday of her own coming up. She will turn 18 on Dec. 22. While she had traditional birthday celebrations growing up, despite being so close to Christmas, her last two birthdays were in Tokyo with her host family. They went out for sushi, then came home to traditional Japanese cakes. They’re very small, she said, each slice is a quarter of the cake.

We asked Princess Rukan Saif about her application to Yale College. (A disclaimer here, one of the offspring of The Rose Examiner attended Yale.) She said she will hear on Monday. She plans on studying history with an eye to law school and a professorship.

“All of us are finding out very soon,” she said, sounding pretty excited about it.

Princess Mia Thorsen is also waiting to hear from the many colleges to which she has applied. Her first choice is Brown University in Providence. Princess Emilie Risha said she had applied to schools in California, and has already been accepted to Saint Mary’s College of California in the Bay Area, and has received the highly competitive Presidential Scholarship.

Covering all her bases for the Rose Bowl Game, Princess Cole Fox has been accepted to the University of Oregon and is waiting to hear from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The Ducks and Badgers will face off in the 2020 Rose Bowl Game. Cole applied to colleges all over the country that have outstanding biology programs, in preparation for going to med school.

“I’m open to whichever school has the best opportunities,” she said.

We asked Princess Michael Wilkins if she was a celebrity at her school. “I get a few ‘Hey, Princesses,’” she said, and sometimes applause when she enters a classroom. She says she and her parents talk about her role on the court all the time.

Both Reese and Mia attend Marshall Fundamental High School in Pasadena, and shared that they get have fun together after school. Reese reminded us that the last princess from Marshall was Queen Madison Triplett in 2015. In honor of the two, the school is putting up a display in the hall. The official Tournament of Roses photos have just been sent over for the display.

“It’s exciting,” Reese said. “It’s a special experience for the school and for us.”

An innovative president

Laura Farber has expanded the boundaries of the Rose Parade. Her tenure has seen the inclusion of more women and Latinos than in the past, matching the diversity of the Pasadena area and the Tournament of Roses Association, and she has added a brand-new half-time show to the parade.

“It’s the largest international stage that exists,” she said in her introductory remarks. “This year is really spectacular,”  It’s the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote in federal elections, and a woman will pilot the B-2 in its flyover.

We asked her about the half-time show, “Frozen 2,” which will occur at the mid-point in the parade. Some followers of our Facebook page, All Things Rose Parade, have expressed concerns that the show will only perform for the video cameras on Orange Grove and Colorado.

“It’s been off-the-charts positive,” she replied. The performance will continue all along the parade route, not just for the cameras. “We want to give everyone a treat.”

“We’re trying to appeal to a broader audience,” she added, to balance the traditional and the innovative. “We have something for everybody, to appeal to everybody.”

In addition to Farber, officials attending were Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek and Vice-Mayor Tyron Hampton; Pasadena Convention and Visitors Bureau CEO Michael Ross, Executive Director Jeanne Goldsmith, and Director of Marketing and Communications Christine Susa; and Tournament of Roses Executive Director/CEO David Eads.

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Three Latinas dance their way to the 2020 Rose Parade as Grand Marshals: Rita Moreno, Gina Torres, Laurie Hernandez

Grand Marshals of the 2020 Tournament of Roses Parade Laurie Hernandez, Rita Moreno, Gina Torres in shower of confetti.  ©LB Monteros

by Laura Berthold Monteros

Hints. There are always hints. The hints started a little early with three Instagram posts, which can be seen on Facebook at All Things Rose Parade. At the announcement on Tuesday of the Grand Marshal of the 2020 Rose Parade, the hints were cinnamon apple empanadas (as American as apple pie), Mexican hot chocolate, and a band playing Latin American favorites—rhumbas, flamenco, Brazilian and Caribbean dances—and a red cloth covering the table that hold the bouquets. More than one, then?

More than one. The Grand Marshals of the 131st Tournament of Roses Parade, which will be held on Jan. 1, 2020, are gymnast and author Laurie Hernandez, actress, producer, and vocalist Gina Torres, and a woman who has more credits to her name than the Wrigley Rose Garden has flowers, Rita Moreno. She is one of only 15 EGOT winners (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony) and has been honored with two presidential medals. At ages 19, 50, and 87, the women span three generations of talented Latinas. All three had stories of the Rose Parade and “The Power of Hope,” this year’s theme.

Be sure to check out the gallery below for photos of the big event!

Tournament of Roses President Laura Farber opened the event with “It’s a beautiful day in Pasadena!” She shared why she chose “The Power of Hope” as the theme. Born in Argentina to students who left everything to escape oppression, she said that the United States offered hope to her parents. He husband Tomas had a similar situation, with his family leaving the Dominican Republic to escape the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo.

Hope makes anything is possible, she said. “El poder de esperanza. Hope means so much.” It brings joy, aspiration, inspiration. “Hope never quits.”

Number 1

With that, Farber launched into her introduction of the Grand Marshal. The GM is a Latina, Farber related, who was born in New Jersey in 2000 and is an Olympic gymnast, author, and contestant on Dancing with the Stars, among other accomplishments. “Laurie Hernandez!” she announced.

Hernandez came through the thick silver curtain, and was presented with a bouquet of red roses. At the lectern she related that she has watched the “Rose Bowl Parade” since she was a kid. Her charm and enthusiasm made up for that slip of the tongue. “Keep spreading that message,” she said. “The Power of Hope.”

“It’s a dream come true!” she told reporters after the announcement. She said that she wanted to be part of the Olympics when she watched it on television, and she felt that same desire when she watched the Rose Parade. She said she was surprised when she found out she would actually have that opportunity. She spoke of the “chemistry” the three strong Latinas developed when they met prior to the announcement.

Number 2

The usual program order is that after the speech by the GM, there are photo and interview ops. But this time, Hernandez went to the side of the stage and Farber again stood at the mic to announce the second Grand Marshal—a mezzo-soprano who sang opera and jazz, acted in The Matrix and television series such as Firefly and Suits, and is the first Afro-Latina to have the lead in her own series. Pearson. Gina Torres stepped through the curtain.

Her mother loved parades, she said, so she saw a lot of them. “Parades are about teamwork…So I’m honored to be a part of this team.”

Afterwards, she told a radio journalist that the invitation had come through her manager. He forwarded the email and wrote, “Scroll all the way down. I think you want to see this,” she said. “It took me 25 seconds to say yes!” Asked what her favorite operatic role is, she said that she hadn’t been a lead, but that she learned so much about Mozart, Handel, and other composers. Opera singers are really athletes, she said.

Number 3

Farber was not done. The third Grand Marshal is from Puerto Rico, a Broadway star, and best-known for singing “America” in West Side Story. “She is a hero of Puerto Rico and an American legend,” Farber said. Who else could it be? Rita Moreno!

Moreno came through the curtain and down the steps dancing. She took center stage, and told her story. Her mother left Puerto Rico to create a better life. She worked in a New York sweatshop until she could go back to Puerto Rico and fetch her 5-year-old daughter. Even at that age, Moreno said her uncle was impressed with her dancing.

“All I ever wanted in life was to be a movie star,” she said. “I am so grateful to the Rose Parade, but especially to Laura…and representing with two astounding women.”

She called for music—the sound techs put on “We Are the Champions.” Moreno called out, “We don’t have any Latino music?” At that, they put on Latin dance music, and the three Grand Marshals joined in a dance. It has to be a first in Tournament of Roses history. Then the confetti cannons blasted, “America” began playing, and the three Latinas radiated joy.

Later, when West Side Story was mentioned, Moreno enthused about the new adaptation Steven Spielberg is making. Moreno will both executive produce the film and star as Valentina, a reimagining of store owner Doc. “It’s full circle,” she said.

Asked about how she feels about being a role model, she responded, “It’s great. It’s not something I started out to do. I became a role model by accident.” And the message? “I’m still working at 87. That’s great!”

Followers of All Things Rose Parade had a good time guessing who the Grand Marshal would be. Only one thought it might be Gina Torres, and he, along with several others, pinned Rita Moreno. Be sure to “like” that page to stay up to date on Tournament of Roses happenings, and subscribe to The Rose Examiner to get email notifications as articles are posted. No spam will be sent to you.

Here are the official Tournament of Roses bios

Rita Moreno has received four of the most prestigious awards in show business; an Academy Award®, a Tony Award®, two Emmy® Awards, and a GRAMMY® award. Her credits span more than six decades, beginning on Broadway at age 13. A recipient of the Kennedy Center Honor for her lifetime contributions to American culture, Moreno was also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush and the National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama. In addition to her film, stage, television and concert accomplishments, Moreno gives her voice to important causes, including racial equality, hunger, early childhood education, as well as health issues like HIV, breast cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Moreno was among many celebrities to take part in the historic March on Washington on Aug. 28, 1963 and has since been involved with many civic, cultural and charitable organizations, including the Jackie Robinson Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities.

Well-known for her roles on Suits, Alias, Firefly and Westworld, Gina Torres was born in Manhattan to a close-knit Cuban family and raised in the Bronx. Gina’s character, Jessica Pearson, on USA Network’s hit original series Suits garnered award-winning success which lead to the spinoff series, Pearson. Currently she is staring in the lead role and executive producing Pearson, which sees her Suits character take on the world of Chicago politics. The role of Jessica has been a life changing one, earning Gina the National Hispanic Media Coalition’s Award for Outstanding Performance in a Television Series and the Visionary Award from the LA Femme Film Festival. Before entering the world of acting, she studied opera and jazz as a vocal major which lead her to appear in plays and musicals on Broadway, being directed by such legends as Tommy Tune and Pete Masterson in Best Little Whorehouse Goes Public and Jerry Zaks in Face Value. In addition to her work on television and Broadway, Gina’s film credits include The Matrix Reloaded, The Matrix Revolutions and Sundance Film Festival Critics Choice, Don’t Let me Drown. Gina enjoys giving back through several philanthropic organizations; Heifer International, Dress for Success, Planned Parenthood and Save the Children.

Laurie Hernandez earned Olympic Gold and Silver medals as a member of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Women’s Gymnastics Team. Laurie is a second generation American, her grandparents are Puerto Rican, making her the first U.S. born Latina to make the U.S. team since 1984. Following her win at the Summer Olympics, she earned another title, champion on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars. In 2017, Laurie became an inductee into the USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame and was recognized as the 2018 Nickelodeon Kids Choice Sports Biggest Kid. Most recently, Laurie served as a cohost of America Ninja Warrior Junior, and as the voice of Valeria on Nickelodeon’s Middle School Moguls. Laurie is the author of two books; I Got This: To Gold and Beyond, chronicling her journey thus far and a children’s picture book She’s Got This, each appearing on the New York Times Best Sellers list. When not in the gym, Laurie serves as Global Ambassador for Stomp Out bullying and travels the country inspiring young gymnasts and speaks to the next generation about following your dreams. Laurie will go for the gold again at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

 

Hope and happiness make for a good Tournament. Our interview with Pres. Laura Farber

Laura V. Farber in the parlor of Tournament House

by Laura Berthold Monteros

Every new president of the Tournament of Roses is enthusiastic when talking about his or her parade, but it would be hard to beat the outright energy and joy of Laura Farber. Even when presented with concerns about the future““““` from long-time parade fans, she maintained her exuberance.

Farber took the helm of the 2020 Tournament of Roses on Jan. 17. She brings her personal vision to the 131st Rose Parade, 106th Rose Bowl Game, and all the attendant events that draw hundreds of thousands of people to the Pasadena area to share in America’s New Year Celebration. She is enthusiastic about new developments in the celebration, but loves the traditions, as well.

“I think that we have to respect tradition, but balance it with innovation,” she said. “We strive in everything we do” to strike that balance.

To that end, in addition to the longstanding committees, the Tournament now has a social media committee, an innovation team, and the brand new Festival Committee to plan and implement events.

“We want to enhance our demographic,” she said, with events that will “attract my kids.” She noted that television is being replaced by streaming for the younger demos. The Funny or Die live stream of the Rose Parade with Will Farrell and Molly Shannon was very successful, she said. It incorporated live chat to engage watchers.

It won’t be Macy’s

A concern that has often been expressed to The Rose Examiner is that increased emphasis on entertainment may lead to a parade that emulates the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

“Have no fear. We will not be Macy’s,” Farber insisted. “Macy’s and the Rose Parade are the most diametrically opposed [parades] I have ever seen.” The Macy’s entertainment is for the cameras, and then the floats come, she said. There is a single broadcaster, who can control every element., whereas the Rose Parade has several broadcasters.

“It’s apples and oranges…. We have no desire to turn into Macy’s.”

The official 2020 Tournament of Roses pin is circular to represent that hope is never ending

“We don’t want the parade of 20 years ago,”  she said, but “for traditionalists—we have something for you. It’s your Rose Parade.”

Entertainment or floats?

Something longtime fans will appreciate is how often Farber mentioned florals for floats. “Increase those florals,” she stated several times. Dry materials have distinct uses, but she said, “I’d like to see more floral and less seeds.” She would be “thrilled” to have more floral elements, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be entertainment.

“I do believe in having interactive floats and entertainment. It’s just how it comes together.” She mentioned Earth, Wind and Fire atop the 2018 Forum float, who brought parade-goers to their feet. “They made people happy. People were jumping up and down.” Pauses in the parade for performances are few and are carefully considered, she noted. They are factored into the time frame for the parade, which is two hours on the dot for broadcast.

Speaking of floats…

One event locals and visitors have looked forward to for decades is visiting the float barns during Deco Week, the last few days before the Rose Parade. The floats are in the final stages of flowering at that point, and the volunteers are scurrying around to get finished in time for judging. With no float barns left in Pasadena since Phoenix Decorating company joined the other two commercial builders, Fiesta Parade Floats and AES 15 miles to the east, Deco Week has been scaled down.

For the 2019 parade, AES moved its floats to Rosemont Pavilion, the float barn in the Rose Bowl area, along with Cal Poly Universities and FTD decorated cars. Some viewers expressed disappointment in the limited offerings for the $15 admission price. We asked if having shuttles to the other float barns might help.

Farber said that the Tournament is going to look at shuttles, but can’t make promises. They are also trying to make Rosemont more of an event. This year, AES put on Sip & Savor, a tasting event, next to the barn.

“It’s a good deal, pay for the floats and get admission to Sip & Savor. It was packed, the vendors were happy,” she said. The feedback was good, she said, and there were activities for children, as well. (Sampling tickets were about $2.50 each.)

Each block letter has an embedded illustration: band, equestrian, float, Rose Bowl Stadium

The Power of Hope

Farber was surprised to learn that the word “hope” had never been used in a Tournament of Roses theme before she chose “The Power of Hope” for the 2020 celebration. It is a word that has deep meaning for her, and runs throughout her life.

Farber’s parents came to the States with her when she was a young girl. They were students in Argentina during the time of the “Dirty War.” There was a lack of stability, she said, and students were the most vocal critics of the military government. Civil rights were abrogated.

“It was not a place where you felt comfortable that you could stay,” she said. One of her parents’ professors knew someone at University of California Santa Barbara, and her family was able to immigrate. Her parents, both biochemists, found a place at UCSB.

“It takes a lot to leave everything and everyone you know,” she said.

Her husband, Tomás Lopez, had similar experiences. His family came to New York from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The US offered hope, opportunity, the ability to make a new life.

“That kind of motivated this theme. It’s a unifying theme at a time when we need to be unified,” she said. The New Year is a “time to turn over a new leaf.” Hope is life, she shared. It’s respect, joy, happiness. It’s inspirational, motivational, and aspirational.

“Nobody can ever take it away. There’s something powerful about it,” she said. “The Power of Hope.”

Telling other stories

Farber was animated when the subject of marching bands came up. There are more bands from Latin America than ever before, an all-female band from Copenhagen that she is excited about, and many first-year bands.

She rattled of some of the names: West Harrison High School, Miss., which was founded after Hurricane Katrina; Southern University, Baton Rouge, La.; the rare band from upstate New York; from Houston, Texas, Pearland High School, which served as a shelter during Hurricane Harvey; units from  Greendale, Wis. and Alhambra, Calif.; and a  Moreno Valley, Calif. Title I high school.

The Music Committee hosts a music night to show the videos of applicant bands 18 months prior to the parade. The videos present the music and the story that each unit has to tell.

“The quality is off the charts,” Farber said, referencing both the performances and the stories.

Part of the community

Farber is proud that the Tournament of Roses Association is part of the Pasadena community year-round, not just for a few days before and after Jan. 1. Farber reads books to elementary school students and will participate in the Black History and Latino Heritage parades. The Association and Tournament of Roses Foundation support local public schools with money, volunteers, and events.

“The Power of Hope” applies to the game as well, Farber said. The Rose Bowl Game Keith Jackson Postgraduate Scholarship awards $10,000 each to one student from the Big Ten Conference and one student from the Pac-12 Conference. The students do not have to be on the football players. They will shadow the Rose Bowl Game staff and will be presented with their award at Lawry’s Beef Bowl.

The weather report

It’s always sunny for the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl Game, except when it isn’t. But for the previous 130 parades, it has only rained on 10 parades. There are certain superstitions that go along with that—never have a parade on Sunday, don’t ask a Supreme Court Justice to be the Grand Marshal, and don’t choose a theme with any reference to water—but there seems to be only one person responsible.

“The Executive VP is in charge of weather,” Farber informed us. The Executive Vice President becomes the President for the following year. She told 2019 Pres. Gerald Freeny that she gave him a good parade, and it seems she expects 2021 Pres. Robert Miller to provide lovely weather for hers.

Ultimately, Laura Farber hopes that the 131st Tournament of Roses, with the parade, game, and many events, will bring the “joy and happiness of the New Year. We are ‘America’s New Year Celebration.’”

Visiting the float barns during 2019 Rose Parade Deco Week

by Laura Berthold Monteros

The Rose Examiner dropped in on the three float barns last Friday and Saturday to see the progress of the creations at the commercial builders and to talk to some of the folks doing the decorating. The 130th Tournament of Roses Parade happens on Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019, so the decorators—almost all volunteers—were busy cutting statice, powdering rice, gluing on flowers, and filling vials.

Be sure to check out the gallery below to see the progress all those volunteers were making.

Making the rounds at Phoenix Decorating Company

Ryan Young with the Farmers Insurance float.

Our trip started off with a bang at Phoenix Decorating Company in Irwindale. We had just walked in the door when a sound like an I-beam hitting the floor split the air. Those cavernous float barns echo, so it turned out it wasn’t as bad as it sounded. There had been a small explosion under the Trader Joe’s float. The folks at Phoenix reacted immediately, with crew chiefs hurrying the decorators off the scaffolding and away from the float.

“Go back to your floats, go back to your floats!” the other volunteers were ordered. Everyone complied, because after all, those floats had to be covered with flowers in less than four days.

We asked a man who had been waiting to work on the Kiwanis float if it was scary. “It certainly was,” he said. Another man suggested that the sulphur-scented smoke we noticed might well be just dust and glue, and we returned to our tour of the floats

At the Farmers Insurance float, “A Carousel of Experience,” we met Ryan Young, a Philadelphia transplant. He’s only been in Pasadena for a few months, and already he was fully into the experience of decorating a float.

“I didn’t realize the scale,” he said, comparing the TV version and the real thing. “It’s neat to see it coming together.”

Young works in procurement for Farmers, which is a good match for his role on the float. He said his job is to be a runner, getting whatever anyone working on the float needs.

At the United Sikh Mission float, “A Divine Melody Resonates in All,” we ran into creative director Minu Singh, whom we spoke with last year. The float features a giant rabab, which she said was the first Sikh instrument. It was used by Guru Nanak to spread his message of the oneness of all though his poems and songs.

“Everything in our holy book is music,” Singh said. “Every time we congregate, it’s about singing.” She spoke of an “eternal cosmic symphony.” “Every bit of creation is part of the symphony,” she said.

A few blocks north at Fiesta Parade Floats

Tejinder and Simran cut statice for the United Sikh Mission float at Phoenix Decorating Company.

We got to Fiesta Parade Floats around lunch time, and most of the volunteers were up on the floats or scaffolds so we stuck to taking pictures. We did notice that there were a couple towering humans looking down from the decks, though.

Lono, the Hawaiian god of music and peace and the deity associated with the fertile lands of the Hawaiian Islands stands at the front of “Rhythms of Paradise,” the Dole Packaged Foods float. Stella Rosa lets the genie out of the (wine) bottle with “Taste of Magic.” (Others are on the American Armenian float at Phoenix and AES’ 24 Hour Fitness float.)

“Harmony Through Union,” the first entry from the Chinese American Heritage Foundation, doesn’t have a whole human, but it does have two spectacularly huge arms, one holding a mallet and the other a golden spike to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the historic meeting of the eastern and western portions of the Transcontinental Railroad in Promontory, Utah on May 10, 1869, and to celebrate the contributions of immigrants.

Rosemont Pavilion

Denise Godfrey and Emma McGregor at the Cal Poly Universities float.

Previously used by Phoenix Decorating Company, Rosemont Pavilion now holds the AES floats for final decorating, as well as Cal Poly Universities and the FTD vehicle decorating. We were able to strike up a couple conversations at the floats. Check back after the Rose Parade for more about the four vehicles that will carry the celebrities in the parade.

At the Cal Poly float, “Far Out Frequencies,” we were given a California Grown sticker, which indicates that 85 percent of the floral material on the float was grown in California. Denise Godfrey was there with her daughter Emma McGregor. Their family business, Olive Hill Greenhouses, was founded by Godfrey’s parents in 1973. They have been supplying indoor plants to Cal Poly for about four years.

At the Chipotle Mexican Grill float, “Cultivate a Better World,” we found Russ Wimmer and Aida Bueno busily mixing spices to cover the float. And that is mostly what will cover the float. Wimmer told us that Chipotle insisted that only the 51 ingredients used at their restaurants can be used on the floats.

Red is created with a mixture of fresh chili pepper flakes and chili powder. The wood is brown rice instead of the usual paper bark, and juniper berries, oregano, lemon leaf, and corn husks are seen throughout the float. Baskets laid out around the deck like a vegetable stand will be filled with fresh produce. The only roses will be a red edging around the bottom and white spray roses tucked into a garland of red chili peppers. The Tournament of Roses granted a variance to allow a wheelchair lift at the back to remain uncovered.

For a list of all the floats with builders and designers, read “Rose Parade 2019 float entries.”

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All photos copyright LB Monteros. Contact administrator for permissions.

 

Tournament of Roses Pres. Gerald Freeny sings ‘The Melody of Life’

Gerald Freeny, president of the 2019 Tournament of Roses, at Tournament House. Photo by LB Monteros

by Laura Berthold Monteros

With the Tournament of Roses looking to add more “entertainment value” over the past few years, Pres. Gerald Freeny’s theme for the 2019 Rose Parade, “The Melody of Life,” seems tailor made. But it means more to Freeny than just the excitement that The Forum float with Earth, Wind & Fire brought to the 2018 parade. We had the opportunity chat at Tournament House on Monday about the 130th Rose Parade and 105th Rose Bowl Game, which will be held on Jan. 1, 2019.

“Music is the universal language. It’s something that soothes us, calms us, heals us,” Freeny said. It brings families together and makes enemies into friends, breaks down barriers, breaks down walls, identifies things we have in common. Music brings back memories of special people and loved ones. When Earth, Wind & Fire performed, he said, “everyone was dancing. It brought joy to everyone.”

With music touching nearly everyone, the theme opens many possibilities for float design. “The Melody of Life” fits well with serious and humorous themes, and opens opportunities for performers in all genres of music. Freeny noted that a choir could be on board a float, and music could be gospel, jazz, contemporary, Motown. With the Los Angeles Philharmonic celebrating its 100th anniversary, it could even be classical.

When we asked who his favorite artists are, he had to think. He definitely favors jazz saxophone players though; he mentioned Kenny G, Grover Washington, Jr., Boney James, and Stanley Turrentine, with a nod to guitarist Wes Montgomery. Motown’s high on his list, with the Four Tops, Earth, Wind & Fire, Stevie Wonder, and Lionel Richie getting first mentions.

Life in song

Freeny’s alma mater, John Muir High School in Pasadena, had a reputation for music and sports at the time. He chose sports, but he noted that there was music on in the locker room. On Sunday, he was watching ESPN and noticed how many headsets the players had as they walked out to the field and back into the locker room.

“Music, as well as bringing people together, ties families together,” he said. On holidays when family Continue reading “Tournament of Roses Pres. Gerald Freeny sings ‘The Melody of Life’”

Cake & Conversation with the Royal Court

The 2018 Tournament of Roses Royal Court at Allendale Branch Library: Princesses Lauren Buehner, Alexandra Artura, Queen Isabella Marez, Princesses Julianne Lauenstein, Sydney Pickering, Savannah Bradley.

 

by Laura Berthold Monteros

Queen Isabella, 2018 Tournament of Roses Royal Court, listens to questions at Allendale Library.

What is it like to be on the Tournament of Roses Royal Court? Last Wednesday at Allendale Branch Library in Pasadena, people had the opportunity to find out more about how Rose Queen Isabella Marez and the Rose Princesses view their experiences since the Court was named in October, 2017. Cake and Conversation with the Royal Court has become an annual event at Allendale, and both girls and boys (and a sprinkling of men and women) were there to meet the seven young ladies who represent the TOR and City of Pasadena.

Librarian Veronica Fuentes Bernal acted as emcee, opening with a set of questions before turning it over to the audience. The responses of the young women manifested maturity, self-awareness, a deep interest in other people, and an understanding of their place in the community as ambassadors. This insight was reflected in the responses to a young girl in the front row, who asked what it is like to be on the Royal Court.

Princess Alexandra Artura replied, “It’s more of a job than you think it is, but it’s one I really enjoy.” She noted that the Royal Court represents the city, their schools, and their families.

“People don’t realize you’re not a princess yourself,” Princess Lauren Buehner said. “People want to see you for what you represent.”

Queen Isabella noted the sisterhood that the seven young women had formed, the changes they had made in the community, and making a difference in the world.

Later, Princess Julianne Lauenstein said, “The best moment was when we turned the corner from Orange Grove to Colorado and could see all the people lined up. That must indeed be an overwhelming moment; many queens and princesses throughout the years have mentioned it.

Boys and girls came to Allendale Library to hear the young women on the 2018 Royal Court.

Meeting people, from the many retirement homes they visited to talking to hospitalized children, was stated several times. Princess Savannah Bradley said she was inspired by the people she met, and disappointed that she had to stand in the hall at one of the hospitals because she had a cold. (Library assistant Terry Cannon asked about that; it turns out that with their busy schedules and fall maladies, all the girls got sick at one point or another.)

 

They mentioned celebrities like Grand Marshal Gary Sinise and the oldest living Rose Queen, Margaret Huntley Main. Queen Isabella Continue reading “Cake & Conversation with the Royal Court”

Tournament of Roses crowns 100th Rose Queen Isabella: Photo gallery

100th Rose Queen Isabella Marie Marez is flanked by (L-R) Rose Princesses Georgia Jane Cervenka, Sydney Grace Pickering, Julianne Elise Lauenstein, Alexandra Marie Artura, Savannah Rose Bradley, Lauren Elizabeth Buehner

 

by Laura Berthold Monteros

One of the most exciting events for Rose Parade aficionados—and that includes people all across America—is the Announcement and Coronation of the Rose Queen and Presentation of the Royal Court. This year, people were especially riveted, because the young woman who made it from one of 700 to one of seven would serve as the 100th Rose Queen. She will preside over the 129th Rose Parade and the 104th Rose Bowl Game on Jan. 1, 2018 and will be asked a thousand times what it is like to be Number 100.

The audience waited breathlessly last Wednesday evening as Pres. Lance Tibbet pulled the name out of the envelope he had been handed by Queen & Court chair Dave Link. Reporters and photographers had pens and cameras at the ready. The seven girls on the Royal Court held hands, some with eyes closed, and steeled themselves for the decision one way or another. And it came, so swiftly after what must have seemed like an eternity to them.

Pres. Tibbet announced, “The 100th Rose Queen, from La Salle High School, is Isabella Marie Marez!” The audience exploded. The princesses on the Royal Court swarmed Queen Isabella. The moment had arrived and passed, and the Queen for a Year retreated to change from her champagne and pink gown into pure white.

Making a Difference

The event is more than the announcement, of course. It’s about pageantry and history and fun, and the accomplishments of the young women who will serve as ambassadors for the Tournament of Roses. We attempt to capture some of that in this article; the photo gallery at the end of this article takes you there in images.

After a reception on the patio of the historic Pasadena Playhouse, also celebrating 100 years, the Continue reading “Tournament of Roses crowns 100th Rose Queen Isabella: Photo gallery”

Tournament of Roses 2018 Royal Court Princess profiles

Suddenly Stars: The 2018 Tournament of Roses Royal Court

Julianne Elise Lauenstein, La Cañada HS; Sydney Grace Pickering, Arcadia HS; Savannah Rose Bradley, Pasadena HS; Georgia Jane Cervenka, La Cañada HS; Lauren Elizabeth Buehner, Arcadia HS; Isabella Marie Marez, La Salle HS; Alexandra Marie Artura, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy

 

by Laura Berthold Monteros

One of seven amazing young women will be the 100th Rose Queen, reigning over the 129th Rose Parade and 104th Rose Bowl Game, which take place on Jan. 1, 2018. All of them will be Pasadena Royalty, serving as ambassadors for the Tournament of Roses and the City of Pasadena, as well as their own communities and schools. On Monday on the south porch of Tournament House, 37 finalists stood waiting for Pres. Lance Tibbet to announce the names of the girls chosen for this role. Each one is outstanding, as readers will discover, and lives out the theme “Making a Difference.”

Be sure to check out the gallery below for photos and more about the Royal Court announcement. For more articles on the 2018 Royal Court, visit our special 2018 Royal Court page.

Queen & Court Committee Chair Dave Link gave a brief history of the Rose Parade queens, and then called the name and number of each finalist. After they took their places on the south steps of Tournament House, Pres. Tibbet came to the lectern.

“We acknowledge the 99 special women who made this possible,” he said of the previous queens, and noted the high level of character and comportment they had established. Referring to the finalists, he Continue reading “Tournament of Roses 2018 Royal Court Princess profiles”