AIDS Healthcare Foundation honors Orlando shooting victims on 2017 Rose Parade float

A white dove, symbol of world peace, soars above a field of 49 stars, one for each of those who died. The double rainbow exemplifies promise, beauty and  enlightenment with the message of eternal hope and life. Replicas of actual messages of condolences from those who lost loved ones flutter from the Memorial Tree. Stored inside the float are more than 5,000 memorial notes from around the world. Courtesy Pasadena Tournament of Roses.


by Laura Berthold Monteros

On June 12, 2016, 49 men and women were killed and 53 others wounded in a mass shooting at the Orlando nightclub Pulse. On Jan. 2, 2017, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) float will honor the victims on a beautiful Rose Parade float, “To Honor & Remember Orlando.” It is designed by Art Aguirre and built by Fiesta Parade Floats. We spoke about the choice of theme and what it means to the community with three of the riders, Ged Kinslea, Senior Director, Communications for AHF; Gustavo Marrero, Vice President of Impulse Group Orlando; and Corey Lyons, President of Impulse Group Orlando.

Kinslea said that with 2017 being the 30th anniversary of AHF, the original idea had been to celebrate that anniversary on their annual float. “Fiesta Parade Floats reaches out early in the year and gives us the theme,” he said, but AHF doesn’t firm up a concept until July or August. “June 12 happened. As soon as that hit, we decided that should be the focus. We delegated it to Fiesta. The direction AHF gave was to “be spectacular.” AHF and Impulse Group were presented with three designs, and both agreed on the one illustrated above.

In choosing the theme, Marrero said, “Remembering and honoring those we lost in Orlando is the primary focus. Secondary is shedding light that Orlando still needs their help.” The float is a great opportunity to shed light on families, victims, and survivors of the tragedy, he said, and to honor lost lives and look to a better future. Impulse consulted Continue reading “AIDS Healthcare Foundation honors Orlando shooting victims on 2017 Rose Parade float”

Union Bank, American Heart Assn. salute teens who save lives on 2017 Rose Parade float

by Laura Berthold Monteros

With hands-only CPR, it takes just five minutes to learn how to save a person’s life. The 14 riders on the Union Bank/American Heart Association Rose Parade float can attest to that—eight are youngsters whose training saved a life, and six are survivors of cardiac arrest. They are joined by musician Ilisa Juried, whose life was saved by CPR when she was 18.

Ilisa Juried wrote a song and will sing it on the Union Bank/American Heart Assn. float.
Ilisa Juried wrote a song and will sing it on the Union Bank/American Heart Assn. float.

“Keep the Beat Alive” will roll down the Tournament of Roses Parade route on Monday, Jan. 2, 2017 to the music Juried composed. The sponsors are dedicated to CPR training, especially of youth, and will offer free hands-only CPR training at the Showcase of Floats on Jan. 2 and 3. It also celebrates the passage of a new law in California that requires most high school students to be trained in hands-only CPR.

We spoke with some of the riders at the Phoenix Decorating Company float barn on Thursday.

Ilisa Juried collapsed while dancing with a hip-hop crew while sightseeing in New York. She was 18 at the time. Two nurses and German visitor applied CPR for 30 minutes, until paramedics arrived with a defibrillator. In the 11 years since, she has honed her music and acting skills; she has been a professional singer since she was 13.

We asked if she had learned CPR. “Of course!” she replied. She volunteers with AHA as a speaker and CPR trainer in schools and community settings. She brought music and CPR together in writing a song that will debut on the float, “Live Your Life,” and teaching a group of teens from Crenshaw and Lincoln high schools a dance incorporating CPR ge

Madi Giese at Rosemont Pavilion
Madi Giese at Rosemont Pavilion


“You can actually do a lot by learning CPR,” she said. “Teach friends, teach family…save lives.”

Madi Giese was 15 when the CPR she learned as a Junior Lifeguard saved a life two

years ago. She was working a tennis tournament, checking players in, when a girl playing tennis collapsed on the court. The tournament director asked if anyone knew CPR.

“I knew CPR. I didn’t think I’d ever have to use it,” she said. “My boss said, ‘Do it!’” Her training kicked in; it took just 12 chest compressions to get the girl breathing again. “About 50 to 75 people were around who didn’t do anything,” she told us. “I thought, ‘What if it was me?’”

She said, “The thing I was most freaked about was that I knew what to do, and if I didn’t, if I let her die…. The main thing is to do something. Don’t just stand by.” Hands-only CPR is easy to learn, she says, no matter how old or how young someone is.

Melissa Ziebell working on the Union Bank/American Heart Assn. float.
Melissa Ziebell working on the Union Bank/American Heart Assn. float.

Melissa Ziebell was just finishing up a half marathon in Paris when her legs gave out, the result of a congenital defect she didn’t know she had. Two young girls immediately began compressions and kept her heart beating until volunteers brought a defibrillator. She said that she had spent much time training alone and is fortunate that it did not happen then. She did not get the names of the girls. “I tried to look for them, but I did not find them,” she told us.

She has since learned CPR herself, and would like to get trained in defibrillation. “They did CPR on me, but in the end, needed a defibrillator.” She says she is definitely ready to use CPR if needed.

Ziebell is a physicist who tests electro-optical devices. She was in a Ph.D. program in France at the time, and now works locally. “Electro-optics can be applied to anything,” she said, such as telecommunications and medical uses.

For more about teenagers learning CPR and an artist’s concept of the float, read “California high schoolers learn CPR.”

Photos: Royal Court cuts ribbon for 2017 Tournament of Roses hotline

by Laura Berthold Monteros

“Yes, I’m Queen Victoria!” When Tori Castellanos picked up the phone at the Visitor Hotline at the Pasadena Convention Center on Thursday, she had to assure the caller that indeed they were talking to the 99th Rose Queen. The hotline, +1 (877) 793-9911, is open from 10 a.m. and closes at 5 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 30 and 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. It’s staffed by volunteers, and lucky callers might even talk to a princess.

The hotline room was packed with photographers eager to get shots of the 2017 Royal Court at the annual Visitor Hotline ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday. The girls were a bit late (ever try to get seven teenagers ready on time?), but happy to be there to open the phones. The Visitor Hotline, run by the Pasadena Convention and Visitors Bureau, is best way to get on-the-spot information on events, including the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl Game, places to eat, hotels, parking, and activities in the Crown City.

More information is on the “GoPasadena” app, which can be downloaded to mobile devices, and on the Visit Pasadena Facebook page, and don’t forget to check out the detailed info on The Rose Examiner at The Insider’s Guide and Tournament of Roses Calendar.

128th Tournament of Roses Parade Order of March

by Laura Berthold Monteros

The 128th Rose Parade takes place on Monday, Jan. 2, 2017 in Pasadena, Calif. and features spectacular marching bands, costumed equestrians, and of course, flower-covered floats. There are nearly 100 entries for the 2017 parade.

The Order of March is a bit unusual. The Tournament of Roses President, Brad Ratliff, appears rather late in the parade at No. 65, just ahead of his hometown float, La Cañada Flintridge. Like 2014 Pres. Scott Jenkins, he’ll be in a wagon pulled by equines. Speaking of equines, it is rare for two equestrian units to be placed back-to-back in the Rose Parade, but the Union Rescue Mission and Philippine Scouts are this year at Nos. 77 and 78. The LAUSD All District High School Honor Band is paired with the National Hockey League float, probably hoping for another Stanley Cup win by the LA Kings.

Tournament block:

Entries No. 33 through 48 all have a strong Tournament of Roses connection and lots of star power. It’s the largest block of Tournament-related entries we’ve seen. The City of Los Angeles float, which is the longest-standing Rose Parade float entry, drums up interest in hosting the 2024 Summer Olympics. It’s followed by the three Grand Marshals, all award-winning Olympians, and includes the 2018 Queen and Court, 2017 Rose Bowl Game Hall of Fame inductees, Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek, Rose Parade founders Valley Hunt Club, and retiring Tournament of Roses Executive Director/CEO William B. Flinn. Flinn, the conductor of The Salvation Army’s Pasadena Tabernacle Band, is followed by The Salvation Army Tournament of Roses Band, one of three bands guaranteed a Rose Parade slot. Floats are presenting sponsors Miracle-Gro (post-parade Showcase of Floats) and Northwestern Mutual (Rose Bowl Game), and the two Rose Bowl Game teams. The PCC Herald Trumpets and Tournament of Roses Honor Band, and the two Rose Bowl university bands provide music.

Order of March

Continue reading “128th Tournament of Roses Parade Order of March”

Dole Packaged Foods gives employees a taste of Hawaii and the Rose Parade

by Laura Berthold Monteros

Every year, Dole Packaged Foods gathers its employees in the Fiesta Parade Floats barn right next to their float, and gives them a party that spans the holiday season. The event was held on Dec. 11, and was attended by both Santa Claus and the Tournament of Roses Royal Court. We dropped in for some photos, conversation, and a delicious luau, including haupia, a Hawaiian dessert. Check out the photo gallery below for snapshots of the fun.

The 2017 Dole float, “Spirit of Hawaii,” features three important and very different figures: King Kamehameha I, founder of the Kingdom of Hawaii; Pele, goddess of fire, lightning, wind, and volcanoes; and Sebastian, the parrot who rode with the late Raul Rodriguez on floats he designed. In the six years Dole Packaged Foods has entered the Rose Parade, the floats have won five Sweepstakes and one Director’s Trophy. The 2017 entry is designed by Stanley Meyer. It has a working volcano and four real waterfalls flowing down the side of the mountain and cascading from a floral bridge. Dancers, including a fire dancer, and drummers will accompany the float as outwalkers and on the bridge.

We spoke about the float with Monica Spiro, Associate Manager of Events for Dole, and Dave Spare, Vice President, Marketing, about the community involvement of the company. It’s a tradition for some of the riders to be the children of Dole associates, and this year, Spiro’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna will be aboard. Spiro said the company tries to match the parade theme in the float design. The 128th Rose Parade theme is “Echoes of Success.”

“‘Spirit of Hawaii’ makes sense, since the company started in Hawaii,” she said. She brings the float theme into the party with elements that will be fun for the families, which can be seen in the photo gallery. It’s a way of sharing the Dole vision and heritage with the associates and their families. All associates are invited, and about 250 came to the luau.

“It’s really nice, because it’s a way for associates who can’t go to the parade to experience the float,” Spiro said. Another way is for associates to participate in decorating the float. Fiesta Parade Floats brings the giant plumeria, that will encircle the float like a lei, to the company headquarters in Westlake Village for associates to decorate with rice, and about 15-20 people will come to the Irwindale barn to decorate. Part of the entryway is dedicated to the float, with animal sculptures from previous floats and photos of the floats.

“It’s a way to touch, see, and feel the float,” she said. “We try to look at all the different ways people can experience this.”

Dole is also part of Live on Green, a pre-parade event with activities, displays, food, and entertainment. The company sponsors a food booth where Dole Whips can be purchased, the special treat usually available only at Disneyland. Dole has sponsored the Tiki Room for 40 years, and even reserved the room for a national meeting, where dessert was served.

“We want everyone to have a good time and have fun,” Spiro said. “There’s something for everyone.” And, she added, “Sebastian is still in front” on the float.

Dave Spare shared Dole Packaged Foods’ commitment to aiding non-profits that help people in need. The president and CEO of one of those organizations will ride on the float on Jan. 2. Food Share, the largest food bank in Ventura County, receives millions of pounds of healthy food from Dole every year, Spare said. The food is still within its expiration date and includes frozen, canned, and prepared items and 99 percent of Dole products are non-GMO.

“We were way ahead of the GMO movement,” Spare said. “On the float, all the fruit is non-GMO. It’s more expensive, but [consumers] are getting purer fruit.”

In addition to products and cash, Dole employees volunteer thousands of hours each year to charity work, including Food Share, Spare said. He volunteers at Ventura County Rescue Mission. Employees can take time off work for volunteering, so they don’t have to use vacation days.

If the company works to create  community spirit among its US employees, it helps to create a community overseas. Spare said the Dole Packaged Foods operation in the Philippines is the largest in the world, but there’s a lot of poverty in that country. Dole has built roads, schools and hospitals, and offers free medical care and free schooling. With an increase in hiring, there is a shortage of housing, so the company built 74 homes this year and plans to build 72 next year.

“The employees help to build them,” he said. “It’s like Habitat for Humanity.” Spare has worked for Dole Packaged Foods for 20 years, and he said the other vice presidents have worked 15 to 30 years. “It’s just a great company,” he said.

South Pasadena readies ‘Never Give Up’ for 2017 Rose Parade

Chloe, Saphire, Emma, and Mary Jane (clockwise from lower left) get Sheldon the Little Turtle ready for his Rose Parade ride on “Never Give Up.”

by Laura Berthold Monteros

You never know who you’ll end up talking to at a float barn. After wandering around the South Pasadena Tournament of Roses (SPTOR) decorating site and getting snapshots of the activity, we stopped to have a conversation with Brian, a kinetic sculptor who was welding the frame of Ted Tortoise for the 2017 Rose Parade float “Never Give Up.” Brian discovered SPTOR while riding the Metro Gold Line, which goes right by the float barn. “I saw the yellow brick road, and said, ‘I’ve got to see that.’” he told us. Later, he dropped by to see what was going on and was put to work. Brian was used to working with solder on his sculptures, but had never welded until a few weeks ago. We asked him how welding was different from soldering.

“Welding is exhausting,” he replied. With soldering, the piece is set up at one height. Welding requires that he move up and down to work on the project. “I’m getting more fit,” he smiled.

In addition to making kinetic sculptures out of wire, Brian has begun creating mechanical sculptures for children using microcomputer controllers. Some of his work can be seen on his website, He also used his creativity when he taught young teens and later Kindergarten through second grade in Shanghai. He got the kids interested in learning English by teaching them to make movies.

Be sure to click through the photo album below to see Brian and the other volunteers.


Rose Parade Royal Court dazzles at Macy’s fashion show

Rose Queen Victoria sings with the girls from Temple City High School Brighter Side Singers. When she has time, director Matt Byers told us, Tori performs with the group. She has a lovely voice!  All photos copyright 2016 Laura B Monteros


by Laura Berthold Monteros

qc-lbm-fashionIn fashions from casual winter wear to evening dresses, the seven members of the 2017 Tournament of Roses Royal Court dazzled the crowd at Macy’s Pasadena on Dec. 7. Each outfit was chosen to complement the girl’s style and personality, as well as to push the latest line from the department store. Celebrity stylist Daniel Musto was the emcee.

The members of the Royal Court are Rose Queen Victoria Castellanos and Rose Princesses Audrey Cameron, Maya Kawaguchi Khan, Shannon Larsuel, Autumn Lundy, Natalie Petrosian, and Emi Powers. For profiles of each young woman, “Meet the 7 young women on the 2017 Rose Parade Royal Court.” Each girl modeled three outfits. Read the captions in the album below to see which ones were their favorites! We got the opportunity to talk to parents Fred Powers (Princess Emi) and Dori Larsuel (Princess Shannon) after the show. They both were impressed with the personal growth of their daughters in the past two months.

“I’m amazed at how she’s handling this,” Powers said, noting the time commitment of school college applications (Emi would like to go to Syracuse for broadcasting), and the duties of the Court.

“Shannon has wanted to be on the Court since she was 5,” Larsuel said. She shared the suspense of Shannon’s being the last girl to be called at the announcement of the Royal Court. The girls are announced according to height so the balance will be right for photos, and Shannon is tall. Since then, she said, “it’s been an exciting, joyful experience.” Larsuel added that Shannon is trying to balance school, Court activities, and college apps.

“The Tournament is so wonderful,” she said. “They truly treat them like princesses. The training they receive is over and above what the average person would get.” Later, Princess Natalie affirmed Princess Maya’s opinion that the Queen & Court Committee members “are our aunts and uncles.”

Photo: Queen & Court chair Richard De Jesu with Q&C member Carole Swemline. Swemline said there are annual reunions for the Royal Courts.


Equestfest cancelled due to equine herpes virus at LA Equestrian Center

Wells Fargo at the 2011 Equestfest at Los Angeles Equestrian Center. Photo c.2011 LBM
Wells Fargo at the 2011 Equestfest at Los Angeles Equestrian Center. Photo c.2011 LBM

The popular Equestfest event, which has been held for 17 years at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center, has been cancelled by the Tournament of Roses due to an outbreak of equine herpes virus at the venue, TheRoseExaminer learned this morning. The event, which would have featured equestrian units that will appear in the 2017 Rose Parade, was scheduled for Friday, Dec. 30, 2016. Sharp Seating, which sells tickets for the event, has taken down the link.

The Tournament of Roses released the following statement:

The Pasadena Tournament of Roses has been monitoring recent instances of Equine Herpes virus cases in Los Angeles County. As the virus could potentially affect the safety and wellbeing of the equine participants at the 2016 Equestfest event, that event scheduled to be held at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center has been canceled.

We are committed to ensuring the safety of all Rose Parade participants, including all Equestfest equestrian unit participants and their animals. We are working with appropriate governmental officials and the Associations veterinary consultant to insure the well-being of the animals participating in the 2017 Rose Parade. Additional safeguards and protocols will be adopted to ensure a safe environment. It is anticipated that all equestrian entries scheduled to participate in the 2017 Rose Parade will do so.

2016 Equestfest tickets purchased through Sharp Seating will be fully refunded to the purchaser with no action needed by ticket holders. There is no need to return tickets to the point of sale.

Jason Henry of the San Gabriel Valley Tribune wrote an excellent article on the cancellation. It includes an interview with Equestrian Committee Chair Craig Washington and an explanation of equine herpes virus.

2017 Rose Parade marching band lineup for Bandfest shows

Remo Drums of the World leads a drum-along at Bandfest. c.2014 LBM
Remo Drums of the World leads a drum-along at Bandfest. c.2014LBM

by Laura Berthold Monteros

Bandfest Presented by Remo is the place to see the Rose Parade marching bands display their spectacular field shows. There are three shows over two days, with different marching units at each one. The only band that plays at all three is the Pasadena City College Tournament of Roses Honor Band. Tickets are $15 per person (children age 5 and under are free) and are available at the venue, but since these shows sell out quickly, it’s best to purchase them in advance from Sharp Seating. The shows are performed on Robinson Stadium at Pasadena City College. Parking is free in the PPC structure at Hill and Del Mar.

Some tips:

  • Arrive early. It takes time to find a parking space and walk to the stadium. Be sure to get a program and little drum on the way in, and be seated in time for the Remo Drums of the World drum-along.
  • Seating is on the north side of the stadium, so the southern sun hits it most of the day, and it can be very hot. When the sun starts to set, it can suddenly cool down. Bring water and layers.
  • 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.

Continue reading “2017 Rose Parade marching band lineup for Bandfest shows”

Tournament of Roses Pres. Brad Ratliff will ride with the Borax 20 Mule Team in the 2017 Rose Parade

by Laura Berthold Monteros

And we thought we were up on things….

Google Alerts sent a notice of an article from 23ABC News in Bakersfield, Calif. about the Twenty Mule Team outfit from US Borax being in the Tournament of Roses Parade on Jan. 2, 2017. What? It’s not listed with the equestrian units. We searched the media guide, and Foxit Reader did not find the team (not the first time it’s missed something). We emailed Tournament of Roses public relations, and to our chagrin, were informed that the 20 mules will be pulling Pres. Brad Ratliff and his family. And there it was, in the “Tournament Entries” section.

For those who remember the Borax TV commercials or the television series Death Valley Days, the team and wagons hold special significance. For those who don’t, here’s a little trivia. The TV series ran from 1952 to 1970 and was based on an earlier radio program. Scripts for the anthology series were adaptations of true stories of Death Valley in California, the lowest elevation in the United States. It was sponsored by Pacific Coast Borax Company with its brands 20 Mule Team Borax and Boraxo, and hosted at various stages by The Old Ranger Stanley Andrews, Ronald Continue reading “Tournament of Roses Pres. Brad Ratliff will ride with the Borax 20 Mule Team in the 2017 Rose Parade”