What are the Rose Parade float trophies and who gets them?

by Laura Berthold Monteros

Isabella Coleman Trophy at Tournament House. Photo copyright 2011 by LB Monteros.
Isabella Coleman Trophy at Tournament House. Photo copyright 2011 by LB Monteros.

By the time the spectacular floats begin rolling along Colorado Blvd. in Pasadena on New Year’s morning, they have been through a rigorous judging process.  Every inch of the float must be covered with some sort of botanical material—flowers, petals, seeds, bark, grass, fruit, beans, rice, and just about anything the float designers can imagine.

The Tournament of Roses awards trophies in 24 different categories for the outstanding entries in the Rose Parade.  A panel of three judges examines the floats twice during the decorating stage and once a few hours before the New Year.  One of the judges represents the floral industry; the others may be from different but related fields. Scores are based on criteria such as creative design, floral craftsmanship, artistic merit, computerized animation, thematic interpretation, floral and color presentation, and dramatic impact.  Scores from each session are combined to determine winners.

It’s sometimes a scramble for the decorators to get finished and ensure all the animation and mechanics are working by the deadline, but a missed deadline means a missed opportunity for a prestigious award. That’s a rare occurrence, and not something a builder wants to tell a sponsor.

Here are the titles and descriptions of the Rose Parade float awards.  Keep this list on hand as you watch the parade on television or along the route, and return to this space after the parade to find out which floats and builders won!

Animation: Best animation and motion
Bob Hope Humor: Most comical and amusing
Craftsman: Exceptional showmanship and dramatic impact – over 55’ only
Crown City Innovation: Best use of imagination and innovation to advance the art of float design
Director’s honoring Jacob Maarse: Outstanding artistic merit in design and floral presentation
Extraordinaire: Most spectacular, including floats over 55’
Fantasy: Most outstanding display of fantasy and imagination
Founders’: Most spectacular built and decorated by volunteers from a community or organization
Governor’s: Best depiction of life in California
Grand Marshal’s: Excellence in creative concept and design
International: Most beautiful entry from outside the continental US
Isabella Coleman: Best presentation of color and color harmony through floral use
Judge’s Special: Most spectacular in showmanship and dramatic impact
Lathrop K. Leishman: Most beautiful non-commercial
Mayor’s: Most outstanding city entry – national or international
National: Best depiction of life in the USA, past, present or future
Past Presidents’: Most creative use of floral and non-floral
President’s: Most effective floral use and presentation
Princess’: Most beautiful 35’ or under
Queen’s: Most effective use and display of roses in concept, design, and presentation
Sweepstakes: Most beautiful entry with outstanding floral presentation and design
Theme: Excellence in presenting parade theme
Tournament Special: Exceptional merit in multiple categories, including floats over 55’
Tournament Volunteers: Best floral design of theme 35’ or under