January 04, 2022

Photo Essay: The Triumphant Return of the Rose Parade and Its Flower-Festooned Floats

New Year's 2021 was the first time since December 2013 that I haven't experienced the Rose Parade in Pasadena in one way or another. It was one of many casualties of the COVID-19 pandemic


Fortunately, the Tournament of Roses managed to get the parade and all its affiliated events back on track for December 2021/January 2022—and on January 1, I found myself back in Pasadena, ready for an up-close view of the parade floats at the post-parade Floatfest. 

 Cal Poly Universities

I didn't make the parade itself, having stayed out too late and celebrated too much the night before—making up for the New Year's Eve I also missed on December 31, 2020. 

Odd Fellows Rebekahs

But I was OK with that—because as much as I love watching the marching bands and horses in person, I almost prefer seeing them parked in front of Pasadena High School.   

The Masked Singer on FOX 

At Floatfest, you don't have to worry about any buildings casting a shadow on the floats.

 The Masked Singer on FOX 

You can take your time zooming in on the details that intrigue you. 

The UPS Store

You get views of the floats you might never see from the sidewalk along Colorado Boulevard or Sierra Made Boulevard, the press box, or the balcony of an upper-floor viewing party. (I know—I've done all of those.)

The UPS Store

The only way to get closer to them is to actually help build or decorate one. 

This year's parade theme was "Dream. Believe. Achieve."

And some float designers really understood the assignment...
 Honda the "Believe and Achieve!" float from Honda (which bore a striking resemblance to "Stargrazers," the Cal Poly float of a jetpack-wearing cow jumping over the moon).  

 Mrs. Meyer's 

Others either didn't get the memo—or just ignored it in favor of the advertising opportunity. 

 Mrs. Meyer's

But even the corporate-bankrolled floats are often very nice (though a bit less homespun). 

Some floats were a welcome return to form, like the one featuring the Shriners Children's bear, Fezzie—which commemorated the 100th anniversary of the opening of their first hospital. 

 AIDS Healthcare Foundation

Others were just a little bit weird...

 AIDS Healthcare Foundation the Jetsons-themed "Vaccinate Our World" float from AIDS Healthcare Foundation...

 AIDS Healthcare Foundation

...starring a spaceship-riding dog... 

 AIDS Healthcare Foundation

...who was definitely not Astro. 
 California Physical Therapy Association

Not all the floats featured space travel, though...
   Kiwanis International

...with the Kiwanis turtle towing a "dream boat" with his ATV...

 Kiwanis International

...and a passenger frog riding in his handlebar basket. 

Kaiser Permanente 

The Kaiser float looks towards "A Healthier Future"... 

 Kaiser Permanente

...with kids' dreams at the forefront of science, technology, innovation, and exploration. 

La Cañada Flintridge

I always enjoy the creativity that goes into creating these floats out of entirely natural materials, from roses, carnations, and baby's breath to cauliflower, onions, apples...

 La Cañada Flintridge

...and even lemons and limes. 

Medically Home

It felt like there were fewer floats this year than in previous years, but the 2022 parade also saw some first-timer float entries... 
 Medically Home the one from Medically Home, whose knight-in-shining armor protects a castle from a smoke-breathing dragon... 

Medically Home 

...made of flowers, leaves, limes, and Brussels sprouts. 


The City of Torrance's 65th float entry into the Rose Parade tried to capture "The Embodiment of Nature"...
Michael D. Sewell Memorial Foundation

...while the float sponsored by the Michael D. Sewell Memorial Foundation honored band leaders...
 Michael D. Sewell Memorial Foundation

...and, in the parade, led the way for the first-ever Rose Parade appearance of The Band Directors Marching Band. 
South Pasadena
Probably my favorite float this year was the most representative of the idea that anything is possible...
 South Pasadena

...with a flock of ostriches (naturally flightless birds) attempting flight... 
   South Pasadena

...if not by their own wings, then with the aid of some Wright Brothers inspiration. 

 South Pasadena

You can do it! says a sign held up by one of the ostriches (appropriately repopulating an area where they were once the main attraction at the long-gone Cawston Ostrich Farm of South Pasadena).

 South Pasadena

And by gosh, they flew. 
   Lions Clubs

And the lions of the Lions Clubs International Float were there to witness the whole thing. 
Louisiana Office of Tourism 

Some floats transported parade watchers and float visitors out of Southern California...

 City of Hope

...while others seemingly completely immerse you in the local flora and fauna. 


The City of Burbank's float "An Unlikely Tale" transcends reality into a fantasy land where knights and dragons are friends who read by candlelight. 

 Western Asset

Western Asset beckons you to "Let Imagination Be Your Guide," with a pirate owl at the helm of his ship...

 Western Asset

...and a nautical bird leading the charge...

Western Asset

...forging ahead in whatever waters they may encounter.  
 Donate Life

Rounding out the floats parked along East Washington Boulevard were Donate Life's "Courage to Hope"...

 Trader Joe's

...Trader Joe's "Fearless Flyer" (who'd morphed into the "big cheese" for some kind of dinner party)...


... and The City of Alhambra's "School Rocks," based on the winning entry in a city-wide elementary school design contest.


The City of Downey's float conveyed the adventure of reading (with a nod to the city's historical contributions to space exploration)...


...with the Rotary getting in on the action with its bookish owl, rising 16 feet in height. 

 Mutual of Omaha

And finally, there was the Mutual of Omaha float paying tribute to its wildlife TV show Wild Kingdom...

Mutual of Omaha 

...which first aired in 1963 and has been broadcast both on TV and online in a total of three incarnations. 

It's a lot to take in. That's why my very favorite thing to do is to see the parade in person, live, in the early morning, and then head over to the float display in the afternoon. 

I hope to do that next year, when the parade is once again on January 2—since the parade never runs on a Sunday, which is when January 1 lands in 2023. Hopefully I'll get a good night's sleep the night before and will have plenty of time to recover from NYE. 

And hopefully the Rose Parade will never again be canceled in my lifetime—as it was in 2021 and during World War II. 

Related Posts:

No comments:

Post a Comment