The Tournament of Roses Parade brings to mind huge floral floats with costumed riders gliding along Colorado Blvd. in Pasadena. But the best way to ride in the 2018 Rose Parade may well have been in a vintage Packard with a bullet hole in the side. Or at least, it might be the most evocative! The vintage vehicles that the Tournament Entries Committee picks out for the president, grand marshal, mayor, and Hall of Fame inductees often have colorful histories, and sometimes mysterious ones. It’s a mystery how that bullet hole got there, but it’s fun to think about.
J. Keith White, AIFD CFD and Peter Samek, AIFD are tasked with decorating the cars every year. We enjoy stopping by to chat with the always-welcoming gentlemen and to get a look at the creative adornments. The floral designers carefully choose the colors to complement both the cars and the riders.
Fall colors for the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame inductees in a 1933 Lincoln and 1909 Pope-Hartford brought to mind crisp autumn fields and cheering crowds. Florals in white on the 1929 Packard spoke to the dignity of Pres. Lance Tibbet. The 1919 Dodge Brothers. that carried Grand Marshal Gary Sinise got several shades of purple that complemented the Pantone color of 2018, ultraviolet; read more about it here. Mayor Terry Tornek rode in 1924 Model TT jitney, decorated with baskets of florals and produce that recalled the bus’ first use as a produce truck.
The gallery with this article has photos of the vehicles in Rosemont Pavilion during deco week. Be sure to check out the captions for more on the flowering of the cars and some interesting facts. To see them in the parade, follow the links in the paragraphs above.
The four entries leading off the 2018 Tournament of Roses Parade on Jan. 1 formed a group tribute to veterans of United States military service: USMC Mounted Color Guard, USMC West Coast Composite Band, Grand Marshal Gary Sinise, and the Odd Fellows and Rebekahs float. The float, “Sacrifice to Serve,” was co-sponsored by the Military Order of the Purple Heart of the U.S.A., Inc. to honor recipients of the Purple Heart, which is awarded to service members who were injured in battle.
The color guard is a fixture at the front of the Rose Parade. Headquartered at the Marine Corps Logistics Base in Barstow, Calif., it is the last remaining US Marine Corps Mounted Color Guard. The Marines ride rescued wild mustangs, adopted through the Bureau of Land Management’s Adopt a Horse program. GySgt Carlton Esswein is the Staff NCO in charge of the unit; MCLB Barstow commanding officer is Col. Sekou Karega and the base sergeant major is SgtMaj Sergio MartinezRuiz.
Small but mighty, the USMC West Coast Composite Band plays the Marine’s Hymn and other march favorites. For 2018, the band was comprised of Marine Band San Diego, First Marine Division Band, and 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing Band led by drum major GySgt Hugh Wurts. CWO3 Christian Flores, Band Officer and MGySgt Brian Paradis, Bandmaster, direct the band. All band members are fully combat trained, and many have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Grand Marshal Gary Sinise has worked with veterans’ organizations for decades and established the Gary Sinise Foundation to better serve them. His work fits well with the parade theme “Making a Difference.” Sinise was thrilled to be chosen as the Rose Parade Grand Marshal, because he grew up watching the parade and realizes the honor and reach of this annual tradition.
The 1919 Dodge Brothers automobile that carried him and his wife, Moira Harris, was the car driven by Jimmy Stewart (himself a WWII veteran) in It’s a Wonderful Life and is used by owners Keith and Marilyn Smith to raise money for veteran groups. The movie was the holiday entertainment of choice for the family of Tournament of Roses Pres. Lance Tibbet, so the car is special to him, as well.
The Rose Examiner has posted several articles about Gary Sinise and the car:
“Sacrifice to Serve,” the 69th Rose Parade entry for Odd Fellows and Rebekahs Rose Float, Inc., won the Director Award for most outstanding artistic design and floral presentation. It was designed by Michelle Lofthouse and built by Phoenix Decorating Company. The float used 158,320 roses and other flowers, as well as a large variety of dry materials. Pampas and buffalo grasses, palm bark and palm bark fiber, and hand-cut corn husk feathers covered the imposing eagle. The purple heart at the front was created with dark blue iris, yellow and white mums, gold clover and flax seed, and fine-cut yellow strawflower. Floragraphs used onion powder, poppy seed, rice, ground split pea, strawflower, statice, walnut shell, and coffee.
It was 2011 when we first wrote about the California Grown credential awarded by the California Cut Flower Commission (CCFC). The California Clock Company contacted us about their 2012 Rose Parade float celebrating their 80th anniversary and their most famous product, the ubiquitous Kit-Cat clock. They insisted on floral materials that were grown in California, and along with Cal Poly Universities, achieved California Grown status. In order to be certified, 85 percent of the floral materials on an entry must be grown in the Golden State.
By 2017, three floats and the Tournament of Roses vehicles carrying Rose Parade honorees, received certification, despite the years-long drought that plagued California agriculture until early 2017. The floats were Miracle-Gro “Everything’s Coming Up Roses,” Cal Poly Universities “A New Leaf,” and California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) “Legacy of Generations.” We were able to attend the ceremonies at Fiesta Parade Floats for Miracle-Gro and CMAB, but there are photos of all the honorees below, along with links to more extensive articles on the Tournament of Roses entries.
We were tipped off that the three Grand Marshals and their families would be at the car decorating tent on Saturday to sit in the classic automobiles that will drive them down Colorado Blvd. in the 128th Tournament of Roses Parade. The parade is held on Monday, Jan. 2, 2017 because of the “Never on Sunday” rule. Olympians Janet Evans, Greg Louganis, and Allison Felix climbed into the cars with huge grins on their faces. Be sure to take a look at the photos below.
FTD floral designer J. Keith White, AIFD CFD, has decorated the vehicles used in the parade for a dozen years. He chooses colors and floral materials that complement the color and design of the cars. Or buses, trolleys, and mule team wagons that he is called on to beautify for the Rose Parade. None of the three Grand Marshal cars—a 1915 Pierce Arrow for Evans, a 1937 Bentley for Louganis, and a 1911 Pope-Hartford for Felix—has been in the Rose Parade before. All will be driven by their owners, and White made sure that each one has the Olympic rings on the front.