Friday, January 2, 2015

Photo Essay: The Floats of the Rose Parade, 2015

After having volunteered to decorate Glendale's float last year, I became intrigued by the handiwork that goes into designing, building, and decorating these grand displays. These aren't the floats of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, in which the balloons are the main attraction: these are intricately crafted sculptures, botanic gardens on wheels, roving down the streets of Pasadena.

Sure, there is plenty of glue and glitter, but most of the floats are entirely covered in flowers and other natural materials (and, in some cases, even fruits and vegetables).

Angelenos have a few opportunities to see the floats up close: as a volunteer during the building and decorating process (when you can also buy a ticket to just look), in the dark wee hours before the parade starts when they're lined up on the street (which is free), during the Rose Parade itself (which is early, and expensive to get a good seat), and afterwards, when they're available for viewing in broad daylight for a couple of days at a comparatively low ticket price.

I was too sick to go check them out last year, but this year I managed to overcome my NYE hangover (two days later) to see them first-hand, and finished, for the first time.

Wow.

Pasadena was the place to be today.

The presenters of the floats are a combination of local cities, universities, non-profit organizations, religious groups, and corporations. When it comes down to it, it's all propaganda, but this sure is one unique way of marketing your message.



My favorite float, featuring Lily the pink hippo, was an award-winning entry by parade participant Zappos.com.



There were a surprising amount of animatronics, including a swimming shark...



...and a sawing octopus.



For me, the animals are always the highlight of these floats (as with last year's Glendale Bear)...



...like this year's winner of the Bob Hope Humor award for Most Comical & Amusing Entry, presented by the Underground Service Alert of Southern California, whose message is to call 811 before you start digging anywhere on your property.



Burbank won the Past Presidents' award for Most Creative Design & Use of Both Floral & Non-Floral Materials...



...for their "Jungle Rescue" float...



...built and decorated with the help of hundreds of volunteers.



The City of Sierra Madre won the Mayor's Award for Most Outstanding City Entry - National or International for their choo-choo themed "I Think I Can" float...



...featuring a teddy bear and a sock monkey, which still count as animals if you ask me.



To accompany the horses trotting in the parade, there was also the beautiful horse atop the city of Downey's "Home for the Holidays" float...



...which won the National Award for Best Depiction of Life In U.S.A. - Past, Present Or Future.



The "Cradle of Civilization" float by the American Armenian Float Association was fabulous (and won the Presidents' award for Most Effective Floral Use & Presentation)...



...as was the entry by Singpoli, "A Bright Future"...



...which deservedly won the Grand Marshal's award for Excellence In Creative Concept & Design.



This year's Rose Parade – the 126th – is themed "Inspiring Stories," but each float has its own theme, too, like Cal Poly University's "Soaring Stories" (deemed the parade's Most Beautiful Non-Commercial Float)...



...and China Airlines' "Inspiring Grace of Cloud Gate"...



...Western Asset Management's "The Power of Imagination"...



...which won the Fantasy trophy...



...South Pasadena's entry, "Still Winning!" (which ironically did not win an award)...



...and "Dream Big," presented by Farmer's Insurance, which took home the Tournament Special trophy.



There are so many winners because so many of these floats are so incredible...



...and so different from one another, each having their own merits and outstanding attributes.



Whether it's the Special Olympics...



...or the AIDS Healthcare Foundation paying tribute to Ebola first responders...



...each float makes its own unique mark on the parade...



...and a big impression on the parade's spectators.



Even the TV show The Bachelor got in on the action this year...



...and won the Queen's award for Most Effective Use And Display of Roses In Concept, Design & Presentation!



And the most spectacular float?



That honor goes to Kiehl's, which created a replica of their original flagship store in New York City on Third Avenue and E. 13th Street, replete with a reproduction of the apothecary's medical skeleton, "Mr. Bones" (though the skeleton itself is actually of a female body).

All I can say is "Wow." I can't even show you everything – there's too much detail to behold and convey.

And just think: all the floats will be completely different next year.

Related Posts:
Photo Essay: Rose Parade 2014 Floats, In Progress
Photo Essay: The Horses of the Rose Parade
Photo Essay: Rose Bowl Stadium, Renovated Again, and Open for Tours!