The Grand Marshal sees his chariot for the first time. L-R: Moira Harris, designer J. Keith White, Gary Sinise, Kathy Perini from the Tournament Entries Committee
by Laura Berthold Monteros
The Rose Examiner got a tip a couple days ago that 2018 Rose Parade Grand Marshal Gary Sinise would be at Rosemont Pavilion on Dec. 31 to try out the fit of the 1919 Dodge Brothers car that will take him along the parade route on Jan. 1. We weren’t disappointed and neither was Sinise. He and his wife Moira Harris seemed very pleased with the gorgeous floral decoration by J. Keith White, AIFD CFD and the classic beauty of the 1919 Dodge Brothers car.
The vehicle was driven by Jimmy Stewart in the 1947 movie It’s a Wonderful Life as the George Bailey family car. This car has a special meaning for Tournament of Roses Pres. Lance Tibbet, because his theme, “Making a Difference,” was chosen in part out of a family tradition of watching the film every Christmas. It is now owned by Keith and Marilyn Smith of Johnstown, Colo. It’s fitting that it will carry Sinise, a tireless advocate for veterans, through the Rose Parade, both because Jimmy Stewart was a World War II vet and because the Smiths use photo opps with it to raise money for veterans and their families.
Be sure to check out the photos in the gallery below as well as photos of the Grand Marshal announcement .
Sinise climbed in the backseat, where he and his wife will sit, but White urged him to try out the driver’s seat. He looked quite at home there, but for the parade, he and Harris be in the back. As with all the cars that the Tournament of Roses uses for the parade, the floral arrangements were certified California Grown, which means at least 80 percent of the flowers were grown in-state.
We heard that he has participated in more Tournament events than Grand Marshals usually do, so we asked if he was enjoying his turn. “Yes,” he replied. “What a great American tradition.”
Those of us who were born and reared in the LA area are not generally impressed by celebrities solely for their celebrity, so when I say that actor and Rose Parade Grand Marshal Gary Sinise is an exceptional gentleman, it is not about movies. It’s about character. Though the crowds that were lined up to view the floats called to him and snapped photos, and the guided tour members asked for selfies with him, Sinise remained genial, cordial, and patient.
Sinise has been working for veterans for four decades, and formed the Gary Sinise Foundation in 2011. Its mission is to honor America’s defenders, veterans, first responders, their families and those in need. Through its R.I.S.E. (Restoring Independence Supporting Empowerment) program, specially adapted smart homes are being constructed for severely wounded veterans nationwide. Other programs include Relief & Resiliency Outreach, Invincible Spirit Festivals, the Lt. Dan Band, Arts & Entertainment Outreach, Serving Heroes, and First Responders Outreach. Its latest program, Soaring Valor, is sending WWII veterans to The National WWII Museum and documenting their first-hand accounts of the war.
All photos are copyright 2017