While parts of the country kicked off the new year with freezing temperatures, in Pasadena, the weather for the 129th annual Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California, was picture perfect.
And the behind-the-scenes planning? “Pretty much like clockwork,” said Keith White, AIFD, who for the 13th year served as FTD’s lead designer for VIP entries, overseeing design for five VIP vehicles and two parade pacer cars. FTD is the parade’s official floral partner.
“The biggest challenge for us, in terms of prep, is always space,” White said. “We need several feet on each side of each car to create the designs.”
White’s favorite vehicle this year? The Grand Marshal car, the exact 1919 Dodge Brothers touring car that Jimmy Stewart, playing George Bailey, barreled into a tree in the 1946 classic “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
“To me that car just perfectly symbolizes and connects with the history and tradition of the season and the parade,” White said.
Most of the flowers used by White and his team of designers were grown in California — making FTD one of four groups to earn California Grown certification this year, a designation that indicates more than 85 percent of cut flowers and greens used in designs were from the Golden State.
FTD also drew in local florists to assist with the event floral décor, including the President’s Ball and Wrigley Mansion lobby décor (Jacob Maarse Florist, Pasadena), the Rose Parade VIP Hospitality Suite and Live on Green! (The Flower Factory, Tarzana) and the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame Luncheon and VIP Tailgate Party (Mr. B’s Flowers, Winnetka). Jacob Maarse Flowers also decorates the NBC broadcast booth on behalf of FTD each year.
Entries from Cal Poly Universities, Mane Attraction Drill Team and the Tournament of Roses Police Department’s motorcycle unit also earned the designation, which was presented at a ceremony on Dec. 31 led by California Secretary of the Department of Food and Agriculture Karen Ross.
California growers have been pushing for more homegrown product in the parade. Organizers of the 2016 parade estimated that more than 80 percent of the 2016 Rose Parade float flowers were purchased from international farms in Colombia, Ecuador and the countries of Southeast Asia.
Cal Poly Universities earned the Past President’s Trophy, an award that recognizes outstanding innovation in the use of floral and non-floral materials. The float, designed, constructed and decorated by students from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo and California Polytechnic State University, Pomona, included nearly 97 percent of cut flower and greens from California. The float had more than 40,000 stems of California Grown blooms — including 10,000 roses, 10,000 Gerbera daisies and 1,000 irises. Most of the float was covered with mums: 12,000 chrysanthemums; 7,500 yellow button mums; 3,000 green button mums; 1,000 orange cushion mums; and 500 purple cushion mums.
“We’re thrilled that Cal Poly Universities’ Rose Parade Float was recognized with the Past President’s award for their innovative use of the floral,” said Kasey Cronquist, PFCI, CEO and ambassador for the California Cut Flower Commission. “Our farms are proud to continue to donate their blooms and be a part of supporting the students and this winning tradition that highlights what beautiful flowers we grow here in the Golden State.”
Parade organizers estimate that the event attracts some 45.5. million viewers in the U.S., along with 28 million international viewers.
Check out a full list of winners from the parade.