by Laura Berthold Monteros
With a story of transformation, the 2018 Singpoli American BD float “Rising Above” won the Sweepstakes award at the 129th Tournament of Roses Parade on Jan. 1, 2018. The float was designed by Charles Meier and built by Paradiso Parade Floats. It is Meier’s and Singpoli’s second Sweepstakes award, which is given for the “most beautiful entry, encompassing float design, floral presentation, and entertainment.”
The float illustrated the Legend of Fish Leaping Over the Dragon Gate, which tells of fish who swim upstream to the gate at the source of the Yellow River. The fish who leap over the gate are transformed into powerful dragons. Three giant fish, in shades from white through yellow and deep orange, seemed suspended mid-air, with the Dragon Gate beyond. Echoing the “Making a Difference” theme of the parade, the story is a reminder that even though journeys can be difficult and painful, people can rise above adversity to make a meaningful difference in the world.
The design has three main features: graceful fish, on cleverly disguised steel supports; the stone gate, depicting the story of dragons rising out of the water on the columns and fish ornaments on the roof; and eight real waterfalls with mist. Featuring more than 250,000 blooms, this was one of the most densely flowered floats in the Rose Parade.
The fish, with gently waving tails and fins, were flowered in intricate patterns of carnations, marigolds, and chrysanthemums. A new variety of carnation, “Tangelo,” provided the fiery orange red to the central fish. Blends of nigella, crushed sweet rice, and poppy seed created the stone; split pea and eucalyptus leaves were used for the oxidized hue of the roof. Iris, delphinium, roses, blue Vanda orchids, and dendrobium orchids created the splash and flow of the river.
The song “Rising Above” was written for the float by Hollywood composer Nathan Wang and performed by Malaysian singer Shila Amzah. Both rode the float, along with Ryan Wirtz, 2017 Champion of LA Voice Singing Competition, and Brian McMahon, member of the board of directors of the Pasadena Symphony Association.
Singpoli American BD, which specializes in capital investment and real estate development in the United States and Asia, seeks to showcase the best of Chinese American culture with their entries. A special addition this year was an augmented reality (AR) experience that is downloadable to smart phones, and works with the float or a photo of it—or all by itself. Take a selfie with the fish and dragon at the end!
All photos copyright LB Monteros