by Laura Berthold Monteros
In choosing the three co-Grand Marshals for the 128th Tournament of Roses Parade, Pres. Brad Ratliff had a brilliant idea, but it came rather later in the game that usual. In conjunction—or perhaps collusion—with the City of Los Angeles’ float entry, “Follow the Sun,” he chose three Olympians who are also coincidently part of the LA 2024 Olympic bid effort. The float was announced earlier in the year, but the Grand Marshals weren’t announced until November, 2016. They only had a few weeks’ notice before being publicly presented.
Be sure to check out the photo gallery at the end for more about the float and the Grand Marshals.
The Olympians, Janet Evans, Greg Louganis, and Allyson Felix, followed the 119th consecutive Los Angeles float in the Rose Parade on Jan. 2, 2017. The float was presented by Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board and LA 2024, and featured the beloved symbol of the Los Angeles Olympics, whether 1932, 1984, or 2024—the iconic peristyle and flaming torch of the Memorial Coliseum. The city is the US Candidate City for the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and Evans serves as the Vice Chairperson and Chair of the LA 2024 Bid Committee’s Athletes’ Commission and Director of Athlete Relations. Ehe is responsible for promoting the candidacy of the Bid Committee and Los Angeles to host the Games and helping to integrate the athletes’ perspective and personalities into the entire bid process.
It may have been a blatant attempt at swaying the opinion of the 80 million people around the world who watch the parade, but the fans on the street loved it, and cheered both the float and the Olympians. When asked, Louganis told The Rose Examiner, “Yes, we were all colluding!” Ratliff affirmed, “I don’t see how it wouldn’t help. The timing is good for them and for us.”
The float was pure Los Angeles, from the Coliseum to the waves breaking over the beach volleyball court to the sun setting over the Pacific Ocean. Perched on the peristyle was the 2024 Olympics logo: an angel for the City of Angels, a sunburst for sunny Southern California, and a rainbow for the variety of cultures and experiences in the area—what could say LA more fittingly?
More than 20,000 roses, mums, carnations, and iris were used on the float and a special permit was necessary for the flaming torch. It was designed by Art Aguirre and built by Fiesta Parade Floats. The automobiles, decorated by FTD floral designers J. Keith White, AIFD CFD and Pete Samek, each bore the five Olympic rings in gold.
Media information from LA notes that “Follow the Sun” embodies the essence of L.A.’s bid for the Olympic and Paralympic Games that will harness “the city’s unparalleled culture of creativity and innovation, its youthful energy and near-perfect weather.” It presents the parade theme, “Echoes of Success,” in reimagining for 2024 the successful and profitable games of 1932 and 1984
All photos copyright 2017. Contact Administrator for permission.