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Thursday, January 4, 2018

Photo Essay: A Closer Look at the 2018 Rose Parade Floats

In 2018, the theme for the 129th Annual Rose Parade was "Making a Difference"—but regardless of the theme, year after year, the float designers and builders manage to consistently incorporate certain images and icons to delight spectators and viewers.



Every year, you can bet there will be some fish...



...though this year, it was the goldfish by Paradiso Floats on behalf of Singpoli that won "Most Beautiful Entry."



And rightly so—because it was a delight to watch them sail down Sierra Madre Boulevard, under the freeway overpass, and off into the mountains.



While some float creations swim (and some even surf), every year you can count on something taking flight...



...which, in the case of 2018, were a bunch of adorable bears and, according to the float title, their dreams.



The floral aviators, self-built by CalPoly Universities, took home accolades for "Most Outstanding Innovation."



Of course, some floats take the year's theme more seriously than others...



...as did the City of Burbank's "Sand-Sational Helpers..."



...whose volunteer-built and -decorated seahorses...



...seals...



...crabs...



...and otters...



...had taken it upon themselves to rid the ocean of all the cans, bottles, boxes, and other junk we've dumped into it.



As cute as the critters that work their way into the theme every year are, it's always impressive when a float pays tribute to a landmark piece of architecture...



...and this year, the City of Riverside celebrated its first entry into the Rose Parade in 60 years with a depiction of The Mission Inn in oatmeal, cinnamon, and, of course, flowers.



Fortunately, in commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Mission Inn's Festival of Lights, the builders at Fiesta Parade Floats didn't forget to include the hotel's beloved macaws...



...Napoleon and Joseph.



Although many of the floats frequently depict life in Southern California, occasionally we get some international flavor...



...which came this year in the form of various large animals from different ecosystems (including a live waterfall), courtesy of Dole Packaged Foods.



Where else can you see a reasonable facsimile of a sloth hanging from a tree...



...and a larger-than-life worm reading a beloved book?



Because according to the City of Alhambra, libraries—and books—can make a difference just as much as anything else you might see parading through Pasadena on New Year's Day.



That includes "The Gift of Time," as presented by Donate Life—a float that paid tribute to those who donated tissue and organs and those whose lives were changed (if not saved) by receiving them.



At the Rose Parade, the possibilities are nearly endless...



...enough, according to Western Asset Management Company's float, to fill an ocean.



Shriners Hospitals for Children took that message and brought it around the globe and out into space, with their mascot Fezzy donning an astronaut's suit and carrying the world in his hands.



Of course, not every bear in the parade has to be so serious...



...as the La Cañada Flintridge Tournament of Roses Association proved with their self-built "Panda-Monium" float, which won the Bob Hope Humor award for most whimsical and amusing float.



The Underground Service Alert of Southern California (Digalert), on the other hand, takes its mission of "Making It Safe for All" seriously...



...but somehow it managed to make its depiction of a serious catastrophe-in-the-making seem fanciful...



...and funny.



Always call 811 before you dig!



Digalert may have won the award for most outstanding use of animation, but the real showstopper of the Rose Parade this year was the hat-tipping, three-wheeling, 40-foot-high "Fearless Flyer"...



...representing Trader Joe's and the difference the retailer tries to make in its local communities.



Deservedly, it won the award for most outstanding display of showmanship and entertainment.



I was glad to have the opportunity to see some of these floats up close at the Post-Parade Viewing, rather than just catching passing glimpses of them as they crawled on by.



Otherwise, I wouldn't have noticed the blueberries and kidney beans that created the textile patterns on the headdress of the American Armenian Rose Float Association's outstanding and dramatic dedication to Armenian women.



This was a float that I needed to spend some time standing beneath, gazing up at.



So, too, was the one with the sea monster...



...who, with its googly eyes, rose up from waves amidst tiny boats...



...that, as if in a dream, had sprouted sails out of the pages of floating books.



By the time I got up close to the floats, around 2 or 2:30 in the afternoon, the light had changed dramatically from when the parade had passed me by around 9:30 in the morning.

And for the couple of hours that I stayed, I watched it diffuse and fade and then intensify and glow, casting those giant heads in silhouette against an overcast sky, bits of radiant light breaking through the clouds—closing out the day just as it had begun when the grandstands filled with ticketed attendees, at least 10 hours before.

That is, in the dark.

Related Posts:
Photo Essay: Ringing In 2018 at the Rose Parade
Photo Essay: The Floats of the Rose Parade, 2015