Easterseals celebrates 100 years at Fiesta Parade Floats

Actor Nic Novicki led a cheer—actually, several of them—to celebrate Easterseals 100th anniversary and the Rose Parade float at Fiesta Parade Floats.

 

by Laura Berthold Monteros

Easterseals has aided people with disabilities for a full century and is the largest disabilities service provider in the United States. To celebrate and honor this anniversary, the organzation is sending its first-ever entry, a giant flowered birthday cake down the Rose Parade route in Pasadena, Calif. on Jan. 1, 2019,. Last Saturday, Easterseals Southern California (ESSC) threw a party at Fiesta Parade Floats and invited Tournament of Roses Royalty to attend. Photos are below.

Nancy Weintraub, chief development officer for ESSC, said, “If there was ever a time to do one, this is now.” The 100th is a big party, and “it deserves a parade.”

Board member Mary Platt told us “For years [we talked about] how to get our name out among a broader group of people.” The float was a dream of hers and others. “All of a sudden, this became a reality.”

The “all of a sudden” took 18 months to two years to get through the process of committee work, coordinating with the headquarters in Chicago, and going through design and building. The festive float, “Celebrating Easterseals: 100 Years of Disability Services,” was designed by Charles Meier with  a 20-foot high cake, party horns, and presents.

Easterseals serves 1.5 million people with disabilities across the country every year. ESSC is the largest autism service in California, with 8,500 families. One of the goals of Easterseals is to build a more inclusive future for the 61 million Americans with diverse disabilities. There are services for adults, children, veterans, seniors, and caregivers. Services include day services, therapy, peer-to-peer groups which help with social interaction, camp, and assistance in finding housing and employment.

There were a couple celebrities making the rounds at the party: actress Jamie Brewer, who has been a recurring actress in 20 episodes of American Horror Story, and Nic Novicki, who has 45 acting credits on IMDB and a couple dozen credits in writing, producing, and directing. He had a recurring role on Boardwalk Empire, and as Tyrion Lannister in the spoof School of Thrones. Both were irrepresible in their excitement over the Easterseals float and the work the nonprofit does.

Novicki is an ESSC board member and Founder/Director Easterseals Disability Film Challenge. The short videos have people with disabilities on or behind the camera, and can be serious or funny. Some can be viewed at the link above, along with information on how to enter the sixth challenge in 2019.

Brewer has worked in theater since she went to a summer program in 8th grade, for which she got college credit. She learned stagecraft, acting, and valuable skills for her career. In addition to American Horror Story, a new movie, Turnover, is in post production.

“An older man takes a new direction in life,” she explained. “He hires individuals who have different backgrounds, different abilities. Two special communities are represented: the Down Syndrome community and the deaf community.”

We asked if she sees herself as a role model and groundbreaker. She replied enthusiastically, “I am! I do break barriers! I’m the first woman with Down Syndrome to walk in a New York Fashion Week.”

When it was time to cut the real cake sitting in front of the float, President & CEO Mark Whitley underscored the “effort of inclusion” Easterseals promotes. “What better way to celebrate 100 years, than a float in the Rose Parade.”

Mary  Platt stood with her son Michael, who is autistic, as she spoke. “The question is always, ‘What do you do?’” She said that the float will show some 80 million viewers all over the world what Easterseals does.

One of the most affecting speakers was Howard McBroom, Advocate for Easterseals. He worked himself into a job after some time of speaking with legislators and politicians as a volunteer. He was so effective in Sacramento, that Easterseals gave him a full-time job.

“Only one in five people with disabilities have affordable housing. The other four do not,” he stated. He says this is a “national disgrace.” When he meets with legislators who express sympathy, he tells them, “Compassion does not pay the bills.”

The young women on the Royal Court also spoke. Princess Helen Rossi, who has juvenile arthritis, said, “This event is special to me, because (for my Girl Scout Gold Award), I wrote a storybook for kids with disabilities.”

Queen Louise directly addressed the need for diversity. “I learned about Easterseals’ effort to destigmatize disability….Years ago, the Court was all white women,” she said, adding that the Tournament of Roses will continue to diversify.

“Celebrating Easterseals: 100 Years of Disability Services” will have 12 riders, spinning pinwheels, 3,000 hot pink roses, a coconut flake-covered cake, and lots and lots of marigolds. The flower is associated with Easterseals, and will be represented with fresh petals and stylized sculptures. McBroom will ride the float, with Easterseals Program Director Bryan Nguyen, who is a peer-to-peer counselor.

Kim Cohn, Vice President Marketing Communications for ESSC, explained how the riders were chosen. Each one of the 71 Easterseals affiliates were given the opportunity to nominate a rider, and 20 or 30 did.

“The committee looked for great, inspiring Easterseals stories, and those were chosen to ride the float,” she said.

Nine of the riders are Easterseals clients and three are accompanying riders. They are Kaison Shipp-Collier, 12, Easterseals Nevada (autism); Sophia Stafford, 17, Easterseals Southeastern Pennsylvania (Williams Syndrome), accompanied by sister Sabrina Stafford, Easterseals music therapist; Reagan Crabtree, 20, Easterseals Iowa (apraxia, autism); Blake Scribner, 21, Easterseals Central Illinois (brachial plexis injury), accompanied by Katie Pena, therapist; Matthew Jameson, 21, Easterseals Massachusetts (spastic diplegic cerebral palsy); Lora Glassman, 32, Easterseals Southern California (brain condition); Ernesto Gutierrez, 43, Easterseals Southern California (injury from an IED attack); Howard McBroom, 60, Easterseals Southern California (autism), accompanied by Brian Nguyen, Easterseals Program Director; danny Blake, 68, Easterseals Blake Foundation (cerebral palsy)

Subscribe to The Rose Examiner by filling out the box above left. We ask that commenters register with this site, to avoid spam.

 

All photos copyright Laura Berthold Monteros. Contact administrator for permissions.

Rose Parade 2019 float entries, builders, designers

24 Hour Fitness 2019 Rose Parade float by AES. Courtesy Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association.

 

by Laura Berthold Monteros

The 2019 Rose Parade float listing is out, and we promised our readers that we would give a more complete breakdown of the flowered creations that will roll along Colorado Blvd. for the 130th Tournament of Roses Parade on Jan. 1, 2019. The chart below lists the sponsors, title, builder, and designer for each float. The awards presented in 2018 are also noted.

There are 40 sponsored entries and three Tournament of Roses entries. This year, Phoenix Decorating Company is building the new Royal Court float, which Fiesta Parade Floats has done for many years.

Phoenix tops the numbers with 17 floats, followed by Fiesta with 13 and AES with seven. Five of those are sponsored, which is more than usual for AES. Designers with more than one entry are Mike Abboud (4), Art Aguirre (2), Charles Meier (3), and Stanley Meyers (4) for Fiesta; Michelle Lofthouse (11), Rachel Lofthouse (2), and Dave Pittman (2) for Phoenix; John Ramirez (5) for AES.

Most of the long-time sponsors are returning for 2019, but four who entered for several consecutive years are not: Lucy Pet, Miracle-Gro, Singpoli, and most astonishing, the City of Los Angeles. Los Angeles is the longest-running entry in the Rose Parade, racking up its 120th float last year. We will see what we can find out about that one.

New sponsors are Big Bear Rose Parade Association, Blue Diamond Almonds, Carnival Cruise Lines, Chinese American Heritage Foundation, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Easterseals, Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day, The American Legion, and Universal Pictures and Dreamworks Animation. Stella Rosa Wines had one previous entry in 2014.

Subscribe to The Rose Examiner by filling in your email in the box, above left. We ask that commenters register with this site, to avoid spam. 

130th Rose Parade Floats

Sponsor Title Builder Designer 2018 Award
24 Hour Fitness “Tuned for Any Challenge” AES John Ramirez
AIDS Healthcare Foundation “Another Day in Paradise” Fiesta Parade Floats Art Aguirre
American Armenian Rose Float Association “Chanting Stones: Karahunj” Phoenix Decorating Company Johnny Kanounji Judges
American Honda Motor Company “Celebration of Dreams” Phoenix Decorating Company Michelle Lofthouse
Big Bear Rose Parade Association “Play—Rest—Repeat” Fiesta Parade Floats Mike Abboud
Blue Diamond Almonds “The Best Almonds Make the Best Almondmilk” AES John Ramirez
Burbank Tournament of Roses Association “Stompin’ Good Time” Self-Built Brian Cozakos, Adam Ostegard Founder
Cal Poly Universities “Far Out Frequencies” Self-Built Student designed Past President
Carnival Cruise Line “Come Sail Away” Fiesta Parade Floats Mike Abboud
China Airlines “Rhythms of Taiwan” AES John Ramirez International
Chinese American Heritage Foundation (CAHF) “Harmony Through Union” Fiesta Parade Floats Mike Abboud
Chipotle Mexican Grill “Cultivate a BetterWorld” AES John Ramirez
City of Alhambra, CA “Home Tweet Home” Phoenix Decorating Company Dave Pittman
City of Hope “Harmony of Hope” Phoenix Decorating Company Michelle Lofthouse Isabella Coleman
City of Torrance “The Power of Music” Fiesta Parade Floats Art Aguirre Mayor
Dole Packaged Foods “Rhythm of Paradise” Fiesta Parade Floats Stanley Meyers Grand Marshal’s
Donate Life “Rhythm of the Heart” Fiesta Parade Floats Charles Meier Theme
Downey Rose Float Association “Let’s Go to the Hop” Self-Built Jeff Shadic, Thom Neighbors Queen
Easterseals “Celebrating Easterseals” Fiesta Parade Floats Charles Meier
Farmers Insurance “A Carousel of Experience” Phoenix Decorating Company Rachel Lofthouse American
Kaiser Permanente “Music Moves Us—Inspring a Healthier World” Fiesta Parade Floats Stanley Meyers
Kiwanis International “Helping Kids Rock Their Future” Phoenix Decorating Company Dave Pittman
La Cañada Flintridge Tournament of Roses Association “Tree Frog Night” Self-Built Renee’ Hoss-Johnson Bob Hope Humor
Lions Clubs International “Rockin’ the Vest” Phoenix Decorating Company Rachel Lofthouse
Lutheran Laymen’s League “Joy to the World, the Lord is Come” Phoenix Decorating Company Michelle Lofthouse
Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day “Garden Fresh” Phoenix Decorating Company Michelle Lofthouse
Northwestern Mutual “Spend Your Life Living” Fiesta Parade Floats Stanley Meyers
Odd Fellows Rebekahs Rose Float “200 Years of Harmony” Phoenix Decorating Company Michelle Lofthouse Director
Rotary “Service Rocks” Phoenix Decorating Company Michelle Lofthouse Princess
Shriners Hospitals for Children “Fezzy’s Garden of Hope and Healing” Phoenix Decorating Company Michelle Lofthouse Tournament Volunteer
Sierra Madre Rose Float Association “Harmony’s Garden” Self-Built Jason Redfox Fantasy
South Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association “Three Little Birds” Self-Built Mike Mera
Stella Rosa Wines “Taste the Magic” Fiesta Parade Floats Mike Abboud
The American Legion “Still Serving America” Phoenix Decorating Company Michelle Lofthouse
The UPS Store, Inc. “Books Keep Us on Our Toes” Fiesta Parade Floats Charles Meier Extraordinaire
Tournament of Roses 2019 Royal Court Phoenix Decorating Company Preston Bailey
Tournament of Roses Rose Bowl Game Team: University of Washington AES N/A
Tournament of Roses Rose Bowl Game Team: Ohio State University AES N/A
Trader Joe’s “Ride Captain Ride” Phoenix Decorating Company Michelle Lofthouse Showmanship
Underground Service Alert of Southern California (DIGALERT) “Backyard Harmony” Fiesta Parade Floats Stanley Meyers Animation
United Sikh Mission “A Divine Melody Resonates in All” Phoenix Decorating Company Michelle Lofthouse Leishman Public Spirit
Universal Pictures and Dreamworks Animation “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” AES John Ramirez
Western Asset Management Company “Yellow Submarine” Phoenix Decorating Company Michelle Lofthouse President

Queen Louise cuts the ribbon as the 2019 Royal Court opens the Visitor Hotline

Rose Queen Louise Deser Siskel cuts the ribbon as Princesses Micaela Sue McElrath, Sherry Xiaorui Ma (behind Louise), Rucha S. Kadam, Helen Susan Rossi, Ashley Symone Hackett, and Lauren Michele Baydaline look on.

by Laura Berthold Monteros

It’s always fun to watch a gaggle of teenage girls try to figure out the buttons on a phone when the Rose Parade Royal Court sits down to answer calls from folks trying to get information on the Tournament of Roses. Phones can be confusing, but these young ladies are quick learners.

Last Monday, 101st Rose Queen Louise Deser Siskel and the six Rose Princesses opened up the Pasadena Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) annual hotline. The event took place early this time around, so there will be plenty of time for inquiries about the Rose Parade, Rose Bowl Game, and related events. The big moment, of course, was when Queen Louise cut the red ribbon with oversized shears to officially open the phones.

Be sure to check out the photos in the gallery below. More articles about the Royal Court are here.

The event opened with brief remarks by Michael Ross, CEO of CVB; Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek; and Tournament of Roses President Gerald Freeny. Christine Susa, CVB Director of Marketing & Communications and Crystal Williams, Communications Manager made sure all ran smoothly.

We managed to speak with a few of the girls in between calls.

Princesses Rucha and Helen said “it’s so much fun” to be on the Court and meet lots of people. They said the Court has really bonded, “like sisters.”

Helen has been living with juvenile arthritis since she was a teenager. Seeing very young children as she was being treated at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles inspired her to write and illustrate a picture book to help them deal with the disease. She called it Joe’s Toes, and it was her Girl Scout Gold Award project.

“I know how hard it is…not to do things” other kids can do, she said.

We asked her how she keeps up with the rigorous schedule of a Rose Princess. “I have a really great team at Children’s Hospital. Every day I wake up so grateful and blessed to have this experience!” It’s all about having people around who understand when she is hurting, she added.

We wanted to catch up with Princess Ashley, who attends the alma mater of The Rose Examiner’s children. She confirmed that she has submitted her applications to four universities with excellent Human Biology departments—UCLA, USC, Ohio State, and University of Washington. Coincidentally, UW is sending a team to the 2019 Rose Bowl Game. Her minor will be African-American Studies.

Asked about her life at John Muir High School, she responded, “I’m barely at Muir!” With 100 events between October and January, none of the girls spends much time on campus.

“The support is awesome,” Ashley reports. “I’m staying on top of my studies as much as possible.”

She was able to participate with the Muir Pep Squad in the Turkey Tussle for the first time. (The Turkey Tussle is the annual homecoming game for both John Muir and crosstown rival Pasadena High School, and is played in the Rose Bowl.) In addition to cheering, Ashley has been doing praise dancing since she was 10 years old, which helped her break out of her shell.

“I’m extremely blessed with this opportunity,” she said, and expressed gratefulness to God and her high school administration.

Queen Louise told us she has also submitted most of her college applications. She’s applied early acceptance to University of Chicago, Johns Hopkins, Yale, and Tufts. She affirmed that her research projects are not suffering from the Royal Court schedule.

Speaking of schedules, here are the days and hours the Visitor Hotline is open.

Visitor Hotline (877) 793-9911 Hours of Operation (PST)

Monday, December 3rd – Friday, December 7th            8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Monday, December 10th – Friday, December 14th       8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Monday, December 17th – Friday, December 21st       8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Monday, December 24th – Friday, December 28th       8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Monday, December 31st                                                            8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Hours are subject to change on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day (closed) and New Year’s Eve

Subscribe to The Rose Examiner by filling out the box above left. We ask that commenters register with this site, to avoid spam.

 

 

Revamped Deco Week for 2019 Tournament of Roses: Food, football, fine wine, and floats

Cal Poly Universities decorate “Dreams Take Flight” for the 2018 Rose Parade

by Laura Berthold Monteros

Deco Week used to a big deal in Pasadena, with two warehouses and a pop-up pavilion filled with floats and cars being decorated for the Rose Parade. The last five or six days before the Rose Parade, folks could drop into the float barns and see dozens of creations getting their final flowering as fresh materials were fastened to floats.

With the last Pasadena builder moving out of town in 2017, there isn’t much decorating left to see in the Crown City, but the Tournament of Roses and partners have gotten creative in providing plenty of things for locals and out-of-towners to see and do. There are two really new things going on this year.

AES, a powerhouse company that builds set pieces for Disney Resorts and other theme parks, produces Hollywood events, and of course designs and builds floats, is moving its floats from Azusa to Pasadena and parking them in Rosemont Pavilion for final flowering during Deco Week. (Phoenix Decorating Company, which used to build there, moved to shiny new headquarters in Irwindale last year.) FTD will again decorate the Rose Parade vehicles in Rosemont.

Rosemont Pavilion, located in the Arroyo just south of the Rose Bowl, is open for viewing from Dec. 28-31. Tickets are available for $15 on site or from Sharp Seating. Floats that will be in the barn are Universal – How to Train Your Dragon, Blue Diamond Almonds, China Airlines, Chipotle, 24 Hour Fitness, and Cal Poly Universities. Tournament vehicles are the Mayor’s fire truck and the President’s, Grand Marshal, and Hall of Fame cars.

The second thing is the brand-spanking new Sip & Savor event, produced by AES, on Jackie Robinson Memorial Field next to Rosemont Pavilion. It looks to be a pretty big event, with food, wine, craft beer, music, and six large-screen TV monitors for football fans. For $15, a person can see the floats and enjoy the entertainment at Sip & Savor. Taste tickets are extra; pricing and the growing list of culinary sponsors are on the website. Dates are Dec. 28-30, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Live on Green is returning to the Pasadena Convention Center Dec. 29-31 for the fourth year, and will have

Peter Samek, AIFD arranges floral material on a 1929 Packard. In the background is J. Keith White, AIFD CFD

plenty of activities for youngsters and grown-ups. Everything except the food and beverages is free for all. The 2018 schedule will be up on their site soon.

 (opens in a new window)Farther afield, The Bloc Plaza in Downtown Los Angeles hosts the second annual Rose Bowl Bash. It’s a celebration of college football and the Rose Bowl Game at Hope and 7th Street. The event is free and includes family-friendly interactive games, Rose Bowl Game merchandise, a beer garden, entertainment, food trucks, and participation from team bands and cheer squads. The 7th Street Metro Center Station is on the corner, making it convenient to take the Metro instead of driving. Dates are Dec. 30, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Dec. 31, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Other events during Deco Week include Equestfest and Bandfest, which we have already posted.

“The Melody of Life” is the theme for the 2019 Tournament of Roses. The central events, the 130th Rose Parade and 105th Rose Bowl Game, are held on Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019. Subscribe to “The Rose Examiner” to get news and articles throughout the year.

 

Bandfest show schedule for the 130th Rose Parade

Pasadena City College Herald Trumpets and Color Guard

 

Update Nov. 22: The Star-News will livestream Bandfest performances on its Facebook page.

by Laura Berthold Monteros

What is Bandfest? It’s a series of three shows, each showcasing seven of the bands that wil march in the Tournament of Roses Parade on Jan. 1, 2019, plus the Pasadena City College Tournament of Roses Honor Band and Herald Trumpets, which plays at all the shows. It’s an opportunity to see the units perfom elaborate field performances.

The event is in Robinson Stadium at Pasadena City College, 1570 E. Colorado Blvd. Parking is free in PPC Structure 4 at Hill and Del Mar. Tickets can sell out quickly for Bandfest performances, so it’s best to buy early, though some may be available at the venue. Tickets are on sale at Sharp Seating for $15 for each show. Children age 5 and under are free.

Some tips:

  • Arrive early, allowing time to find a parking space, walk to the stadium, and be seated in time for the Remo Drums of the World drum-along.
  • Don’t forget to grab a program and little drum on the way in!
  • Seating is on the north side of the stadium, so the southern sun hits it most of the day. It can be very hot, but when the sun starts to set, it can suddenly cool down. Bring water and wear layers and sunscreen.
  • Food and beverages are available from vendors onsite, and there are several eateries across the street from the campus on the north side of Colorado Blvd.

Show schedule for Bandfest Presented by Remo

(subject to change)

Saturday, Dec. 29, 1:30 p.m.

  • Pasadena City College Tournament of Roses Honor Band & Herald Trumpets, Pasadena, Calif.
  • The Lassiter High School Marching Trojan Band, Marietta, Ga.
  • The Salvation Army Tournament of Roses Band, Long Beach, Calif.
  • Pickerington Marching Band, Pickerington, Ohio
  • Banda Municipal de Acosta   Acosta, San José, Costa Rica
  • Na Koa Ali`I – Hawai`i All-State Marching Band, Kaneohe, Hawaii
  • Pacific Crest Drum & Bugle Corps, Diamond Bar, Calif.
  • Los Angeles Unified School District – All District High School Honor Band, Los Angeles, Calif.

Sunday, Dec. 30, 9:30 a.m.

  • Pasadena City College Tournament of Roses Honor Band & Herald Trumpets, Pasadena, Calif.
  • Flower Mound High School Band, Flower Mound, Texas
  • Lincoln-Way Marching Band, Frankfort, Ill.
  • Cavalcade of Bands Honor Band, Mid-Atlantic Region
  • Mercer Island High School Marching Band, Mercer Island, Wash.
  • Banda Escolar de Guayanilla Puerto Rico, Guayanilla, Puerto Rico
  • Joint performance (Mercer & Puerto Rico)
  • Florida A&M University, The Incomparable Marching “100,” Tallahassee, Fla.
  • University Band 1 (Tentative)

Sunday, Dec. 30, 2:00 p.m.

  • Pasadena City College Tournament of Roses Honor Band & Herald Trumpets, Pasadena, Calif.
  • Calgary Stampede Showband Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  • Munford High School Band, Munford, Tenn.
  • Royal Swedish Cadet Band, Karlskrona, Sweden
  • Alabama State University Mighty Marching Hornets, Montgomery, Ala.
  • Kaiser Catamount Pride Band & Color Guard, Fontana, Calif.
  • All-Izumo Honor Green Band, Izumo, Japan
  • University Band 2 (Tentative)

Lots of firsts for 2019 Rose Queen Louise Deser Siskel

The 2019 Rose Parade Royal Court (L-R): Helen Rossi, Rucha Kadam, Lauren Baydaline, Trina & Gerald Freeny, their daughter Erica, Queen Louise Siskel, Micaela McElrath, Sherry Ma, Ashley Hackett

 

by Laura Berthold Monteros

Rose Queen Louise Deser Siskel made a lot of firsts at the Coronation of the Rose Queen and Presentation of the Royal Court last Tuesday evening. She is in the first graduating class at Sequoyah High School, she is the first Sequoyah girl to be selected for the Tournament of Roses Royal Court, she is the first to become queen, and she is the 101st Rose Queen, taking the title into its second century. She will perch atop the Royal Court float in the 130th Rose Parade on Jan. 1, 2019.

The festivities were held at the historic Pasadena Playhouse for the third consecutive year. Like the Tournament of Roses, the venue is an icon of Pasadena. Its spacious patio and Spanish Colonial Style serve the event well. Come along for the fun by paging through the photo gallery below!

Local news anchor Chris Schauble of KTLA-5, Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity brother of Tournament of Roses Pres, Gerald Freeny, hosted. Schauble is known for his humorous antics as well as serious reporting on set. With two sets of twin girls, he was right at home interviewing the young ladies on the Royal Court. He came out in an LA Dodgers Number 5 jersey, probably for KTLA. (It didn’t help, the Dodgers lost to the Red Sox.) After a brief intro, he said he was going to do a Mister Rogers change, and he traded his jersey for a suit jacket.

Each Rose Princess, dressed in a lacy gown by Tadashi Shoji, was announced by her father, who read a short bio, and escorted to the center of the stage by a member of Blair High School JROTC. A montage of photos played on the screen above the stage and Schauble interviewed each princess. He then handed the microphone to Pres. Freeny for the revelation of the one girl of the seven who would serve as the 101st Rose Queen. He opened the envelope and announced, “From Sequoyah High School, Louise Deser Siskel!”

Be sure to check out the album below for photos of the festivities.

Pearl crown by Mikimoto

The girls left the stage to receive their tiaras, and Queen Louise to change into the white gown that was specially fitted for her. Meanwhile, there was a video of the Royal Court in the usual Royal Court activities—visiting people, going to events, and getting to know each other at a weekend retreat. Solvang, a Danish town in Central California, was the destination instead of the usual Newport Beach. “Ambiance” from Fullspectrumusic supplied entertainment.

Proud dads escorted their princesses back onto the stage. Queen Louise, escorted by her father Charlie Siskel, met Pres. Freeny for her coronation. He placed the Mikimoto pearl crown on her head, albeit a bit askew, and administered the Queen’s Oath, and it was all official.

Queen Louise, we suspect, may also be the first Rose Queen to be involved in two important research projects. As a junior in high school, she investigated the effect of microgravity on drug metabolism by the liver in a space biology study at NASA Ames in Mountain View, Calif. She said the summer program was a “crazy experience,” an opportunity for her and her partner Rujuta Sathe to do research funded by NASA.

Now a senior at Sequoyah, Queen Louise is researching breast cancer under Dr. Shehla Pervin at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science. The project examines the health disparity between African-American and Caucasian women. She is currently writing a paper on that research. We asked her if she would be able to keep up with her writing, given the 100-plus events she will attend over the next dozen weeks.

“Yes!” she replied. The public Rose Court appearances will mostly be over before she goes back to work in January.

“I want to thank the [Queen & Court] committee for selecting me,” she added, “and also the six other girls.”

UPDATE

Larry Wilson over at the Pasadena Star-News came up with one more first–glasses!

 

All photos copyright Laura Berthold Monteros. Contact administrator for permissions.

Photos: Chaka Khan and Gerald Freeny at Rose Parade Grand Marshal Announcement

Chaka Khan, 2019 Rose Parade Grand Marshal, was surprised by the colorful confetti raining down when she came through the purple curtains.

by Laura Berthold Monteros

The announcement of the Grand Marshal for the 130th Tournament of Roses Parade had the usual elements. Oct. 17 was a beautiful, warm day, the front porch of Tournament House was gorgeously draped, the band was great, the press stand packed. There was the usual excitement in the audience, waiting to find out who would ride in the Grand Marshal’s car on Jan. 1, 2019. When Chaka Khan was announced, the crowd roared and the confetti cannon went off.

Known as the “Queen of Funk,” Chaka also sings R&B, pop, rock, gospel, and country. We asked what other music she likes; she responded, “I love Indian music.” She just finished a project in the Gujarati language with Indian performer Sonu Nigam, which celebrates the life of Gandhi.

Check out the gallery below for photos, and this link for a video on the TOR Rose Parade Facebook page.

But there was a lot that was unusual in the announcement.

There were fewer hints in the food served, music played, decorations (except for the purple drapes), yet from the murmurs in the crowd, it seemed like more people than normal had an idea of who it would be. That may have been because more details were released ahead of time—10 Grammy awards, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, a place in the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame. In his introduction, Pres. Gerald Freeny gave more details that confirmed those hunches, and affirmed that she was indeed a performer who would sing and dance in the opening act of the parade.

Chaka and her retinue were late, reportedly due to LA traffic. The Tournament, which makes sure the Rose Parade starts at 8 a.m. on the dot and the Rose Bowl Game coin toss is never late, announced that the star player would be 15 minutes behind the 9 a.m. start time. It was a quarter after when family members took their seats in the front row, and past 9:30 when Freeny stepped up to the lectern.

Now, a heads-up: Much of this article reflects the opinions of the writer, which is also unusual. If there is one constant in the feelings of folks who love the Rose Parade, it is that they very rarely and almost never publicly criticize the choice of a theme or Grand Marshal. People tend to be pretty polite when it comes to this grand old Pasadena tradition, and the criticism The Rose Examiner heard was couched in the politest terms.

There was disappointment about Chaka’s speech, which seemed thoroughly unprepared. She opened with “Well, I just don’t know where to go with this,” but added, “I’m so honored.” She thrice referred to “the Rose Bowl Parade,” which any GM would have been coached not to do. The theme, “The Melody of Life,” was garbled into “The Rhythm of Life.” References to the parade indicated that she had just not done her homework. (To her credit, she did name the Old Pasadena business district correctly.)

Other than noting that the floats are pretty, she seemed to have no interest in the Rose Parade. She said, “I remember looking at it. But not really looking…. Y’know, it was after the big game.” The game actually comes after the parade. It did seem she was a tad self-conscious—she said, “I hope you like me” and acknowledged that she was “a little bit scared.”

She said little about the Chaka Khan Foundation or what it does. This contrasted with previous Grand Marshals, such as Gary Sinise, whose tireless work for veterans is well known and very personal to him. Jane Goodall had not known about our American tradition when approached, but took the time to find out and agreed to be GM because it is consistent with the values of her charitable work. Actor J.R. Martinez was not a star but has an amazing, compelling story and his courage is indisputable.

There was also some speculation that Stevie Wonder, whom Freeny mentioned three times, was his first choice for Grand Marshal, not Chaka. Indicators were her lack of preparation and not having any idea what she would do for the opening show. Be that as it may, it is not unusual for a president to go with a second or third choice and it doesn’t reflect on how good a GM might be.

A friend of your Rose Examiner was refused by his first choice, who was not available on New Year’s Day, and his second choice backed out at the last minute. His third choice, Gregory Peck, proved to be one of the happiest GMs ever. When he was a child, his family drove up from San Diego to watch the parade every year. One year, they took a stray dog back with them. He was the first, and perhaps only, GM to get the Tournament time on The Tonight Show, due to his friendship with Johnny Carson.

Another late choice was Chesley Sullenberger III for 2010—late, because the TOR president had passed away before choosing a Grand Marshal. Yet what better choice could there have been that year for the theme “A Cut Above the Rest” than the “Hero of the Hudson.”

The Chaka Khan Foundation

Perhaps these comments come out of a suspicion about non-profits, due to years of working for both good ones and bad ones. It is difficult to tell from the foundation website whether the organization is actually out in the community working on programs, or simply partnering with other organizations that do the work. It is fine if a foundation does not actually create or run programs, but supports successful programs financially and with star power. That should be clear in the material, though, whether spoken, written, or posted online. It would have been good to hear more about it from the Tournament media release or Chaka herself.

Chaka established the Chaka Khan Foundation in 1999. The mission statement is “The Chaka Khan Foundation educates, inspires and empowers children in our community to achieve their full potential.” The foundation website says “The Chaka Khan Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization.”

However, it does not show up by EIN search on either Charity Navigator or GuideStar, and only on GuideStar by name, with the note “This organization’s exempt status was automatically revoked by the IRS for failure to file a Form 990, 990-EZ, 990-N, or 990-PF for 3 consecutive years. Further investigation and due diligence are warranted.” The “foundation team” has photos but no names attached, and does not state there is a board of directors as required by law. The only information on  the team page is a long promotional piece for the album “ClassiKhan.”

If Chaka did not do her homework on the Tournament of Roses, it appears that the Tournament of Roses did not do its homework on her foundation, either.

 

Chaka Khan is the Grand Marshal of the 2019 Rose Parade!

Chaka Khan accepted the honor of Grand Marshal of the 130th Rose Parade from Pres. Gerald Freeny.

by Laura Berthold Monteros

Speculation was rampant. Who would be the chosen one to lead the 130th Tournament of Roses Parade? With a theme of “The Melody of Life” and Pres. Gerald Freeny’s love of jazz and Motown, it was pretty obvious it would be a musician. And it is. At Tournament House this morning, as Pres. Freeny’s read her name, Chaka Khan stepped through the white and purple curtains to accept honor of Grand Marshal of the 2019 Rose Parade.

Khan is a perfect choice, not only because of her 10 Grammys, star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and place in the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame, but because, as with Freeny himself, she considers life to be melody that is universal. She told The Rose Examiner that she is currently working on a project with Indian singer Sonu Nigam. She’s learning to sing in his language, Gujarati.

The event started a bit late, due to delays on the way to Pasadena. As her family took their seats, everyone else sat on the edge of theirs. As Freeny read of Khan’s achievements before announcing her name, more and more people realized which name he was going to say. We’ve got lots of photos—return to this page for a full gallery!

 

Who’s your guess for the 2019 Tournament of Roses Grand Marshal?

2019 Tournament of Roses poster

by Laura Berthold Monteros

The person—or persons—who will serve as Grand Marshal for the 130th Rose Parade and toss the coin for the 105th Rose Bowl Game on Jan. 1, 2019 will be announced at Tournament House on Wednesday, October 17 at 9 a.m. Pres. Gerald Freeny will do the honors Who will it be?

The theme is “The Melody of Life,” so that’s a clue. The poster and signs feature a saxophone—could that be a clue? Pres. Freeny likes jazz, but also rock and hymnody. Here’s what we wrote after we interviewed him last January:

With such an expansive theme, it’s difficult to make guesses about who the Grand Marshal might be. Freeny said they are working on several. He, his wife Trina, and adult daughter Erica are “praying to get who we really, really want.” They aren’t short on suggestions, though. One was Condoleeza Rice, who is a highly talented pianist as well as having served as both National Security Advisor and Secretary of State for George W. Bush. Even her name is melodious: It’s derived from con dolcezza, a musical term meaning “with sweetness.” LA Phil music director Gustavo Dudamel has been mentioned, but Freeny’s frat brothers in Kappa Alpha Psi are pushing for someone from Motown. He even opined that it could be more than one, as Brad Ratliff had in the 2017 parade.

Our guesses include classical music artists such as Condi Rice or local hero Gustavo Dudamel, Broadway star Audra McDonald, or an entire group from rock, Motown, or other popular music genre. Somehow, however, we just don’t have a handle on where this might go. There are too many genres of music and too many great musicians to make an educated guess.

Let us know yours in the comments! You have to sign in (this is to avoid spam comments), but we never use your information. And don’t forget to watch the announcement, streaming live on Facebook!

Coronation of the 101st Rose Queen and Presentation of the 2019 Royal Court tickets on sale

Pres. Lance Tibbet crowns 100th Rose Queen, Isabella Marez

by Laura Berthold Monteros

The announcement of the Rose Queen, who is selected from the seven young women on the Royal Court, is one of the most exciting events in the lead up to the Rose Parade on Jan. 1. The coronation of the 101st Rose Queen takes place on Oct. 23, 2018, and readers can be there to see it real time. E-Tickets are now on sale at Sharp Seating at $40 for the general public and $15 for students.

The celebration starts with a reception on the patio of the Pasadena Playhouse, 39 S. El Molino, at 5:30 p.m. The program begins at 7 p.m. A video of exciting moments in the life of the three-week-old Royal Court is played, and each young lady is interviewed. The presentation of the Rose Princesses in their formal gowns follows, and Pres. Gerald Freeny opens the envelope containing the name of the Rose Queen.

For all the news on the Royal Court and lots of photos, be sure to check out the Royal Court page on The Rose Examiner website.