Sharon Stephenson considers herself a creative person, one who enjoys activities such as scrapbooking and stamping.
She has, however, had the chance to take her creative pursuits to a higher level — specifically, the famous Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif., which precedes the annual Rose Bowl football game on New Year’s Day. Stephenson, who works as the distribution and logistics manager at Hydro-Photon Inc. (makers of the water sterilization tool SteriPEN) in Blue Hill, spent the week after Christmas working with friends and family as part of a team helping to decorate a float for the 2015 Rose Parade.
It was her fourth time making the trip to Southern California to help decorate a float for the Rose Parade, which attracts more than 700,000 spectators and a TV audience of tens of millions in the United States and more than 200 other countries and territories around the world.
The parade, in fact, attracts more viewers — both in-person and those watching on a screen — than the football game does.
Stephenson’s connection to the parade is through one of her sisters, Karen Breshears, who used to work for Sunkist and helped decorate a float for the company more than two decades ago. She has been involved with many floats since then, and Stephenson has joined her on four of those occasions.
This year, Stephenson and a friend — Amy Keyworth, formerly of Stonington — went to Pasadena to help build a float for the specialty grocery store chain Trader Joe’s. There, they joined with Breshears and another sister, Laura Ostdiek, and their husbands to help decorate the float.
If decorating a Rose Parade float sounds like an easy task, think again. Companies that specialize in float design spend the year prior to the parade coming up with a concept that fits with the parade’s theme — the theme for this year’s was “Inspiring Stories,” for example.
One Litchfield couple got the chance to cross an item off their bucket list over Christmas as John and DeAnn “Dee” Heck helped decorate a float for the Rose Parade in Pasadena, CA.
The Hecks left for Phoenix, AZ, on Dec. 19, where they spent a few days with Dee’s brother and sister-in-law. They then traveled to Camarillo, CA, to spend a few weeks with their daughter, Elise, her husband and their two children, three-year-old Eva and six-month-old Luka.
Before leaving for California, the Hecks brainstormed things to do during their first Christmas not at home in Illinois. According to John, one of their ideas included something on their bucket list.
“Dee said, ‘You know, we have always talked about how cool it would be to work on a float in the Rose Parade. This could be our chance to do that!” Following a little research on the internet, John stumbled upon PetalPushers.org. Petal Pushers is a group of 4,000 to 5,000 volunteers from across the United States and Canada who decorate floats. They are administered through the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and all their hundreds of volunteers earn them credit to put the Lutheran Hour float in the parade.
“We were both raised Lutheran and thought that was super cool,” John said. Petal Pushers acts as a clearinghouse, organizing and assigning volunteers to nine different floats all designed and built by the Phoenix Decorating Company at a building in downtown Pasadena called “The Rose Palace.”
On the first of the year, the Regal Princess made landfall in Pasadena, California for the 2015 Rose Parade.
A custom float, designed by Phoenix Decorating, featured a replica of Princess’ flagship, the Regal Princess, carrying the theme “50 Years of Inspiring Travel.” Alongside the ship, the Princess float featured famous world landmarks, such as London’s Big Ben, Sydney’s Opera House, and Pisa’s iconic leaning tower, each wrapped in a colorful array of flowers.
Leading Princess’ float through the parade was the most recognizable crew of the century: the cast of The Love Boat. Perched on the bow of the mini Regal Princess was Gavin MacLeod (Captain Stubing), Bernie Kopell (“Doc” Adam Bricker), Fred Grandy (Burl “Gopher” Smith), Ted Lange (Isaac Washington), Lauren Tewes (Julie McCoy), and Jill Whelan (Vicki Stubing.) The Love Boat cast saw command over the ship during her sailing through the streets of Pasadena.
At the conclusion of the parade, Princess’ “Inspiring 50 Years Of Travel” float was awarded the Craftman’s Award for “Exceptional Achievement In Showmanship & Dramatic Impact For Floats Longer Than 55 Feet.”
Every year on New Year’s Day the Pasadena Rose Parade hits the streets to showcase the history and culture of Southern California and the country at large. This year, for the first time ever, the parade hosted a float that celebrated the important and little-known history of Sikhs in America — and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
In the midst of hate crimes and verbal attacks, the float told another side of the roughly 125-year history of Sikhs in America. A collaboration of United Sikh Mission, SikhLens, Khalsa Care Foundation, SALDEF and a team of dedicated Sikhs around the country, the float aimed to raise awareness about Sikhism in America, both past and present.
“The theme of this year’s Rose Parade is inspiring American stories,” Rashpal Dhindsa, founder of United Sikh Mission told the Huffington Post. “That is why the Sikh American story was such a great fit for the parade organizers this year.”
The 126th Rose Parade kicked off with the Glendale High dance team appearing before millions of TV viewers across the country and abroad as they danced to the beat of Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger” and Belinda Carlisle’s “We Got the Beat” as part of the parade’s opening show on New Year’s Day.
Thousands of people are braving record cold to stake out prime viewing spots for Thursday morning’s Rose Parade.
While the fans were whiling away the hours, organizers and the people responsible for making sure the event goes off without hitch were taking care of last-minute tasks.
The finishing touches are being put on the floats as they get ready for their national TV closeup in the morning.
“They look beautiful,” Jim Jennings of Phoenix Decorators told KCAL9’s Bobby Kaple on Wednesday night. “Tonight we’ll move all the floats up and line ‘em up on Orange Grove (Avenue), and get ready to run them down Colorado (Boulevard) tomorrow.”
As temperatures drop across the Southland, will flowers featured on Rose Parade floats survive until the big day?
A floral director with Phoenix Decorating Company thinks so. The director says the flowers should stay alive as long as temperatures stay above 30 degrees. Wednesday evening temperatures were predicted to be in the high 40s.
When Minu Kaur Singh walks down the street with her husband and children, she hears the comments as people pass by.
Her husband is a doctor but what people notice first is the long beard and turban he wears, following the tenets of their Sikh religion.
“It’s not that people do it intentionally,” she said. “It’s fear of the unknown.”
Several Sikh groups are hoping to fight that fear Jan. 1, when their float rolls through the streets of Pasadena as part of the Rose Parade. The float is directed less at the more than the 700,000 people lining the streets on New Year’s Day than the 55 million or so people who will watch it on television in the U.S.
One inspiring person who will be riding in the 2015 Rose Parade is Joan Williams. She was originally set to participate in the parade back in 1958 as a representative of the city of Pasadena. But she was later denied a spot because of her race — Ms. Williams is African American.
“I went through all the promotion for it, and they had me pose for a portrait, and I actually had a crown placed on my head,” she said. “Then when Pasadena’s local daily paper, the Pasadena Daily Independent, came to my home to interview me in that setting, they met my family, and they met my brown-skinned husband. And after that, everything went downhill.”
Williams said she was shocked.
“I couldn’t image a city with the prestige of Pasadena even doing such a thing. But it was 1958, and Pasadena is still a conservative city, but at that point, they were a very conservative city, and it was very disappointing.”
Most people in the military protect lives, but Jeff Spangler had a higher honor: He spent three years in the Army guarding the heroic dead.
Spangler, of Los Angeles, was one of the 628 sentinels who has kept 24-hour vigil at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Virginia. For the past 77 years, these guards have stood outside in Arlington National Cemetery even during blizzards and storms.
A group of volunteers prepping for the 2015 Rose Parade sat at a long table on a chilly Tuesday morning fixated on rows of white carnations, cupping each bud in their hands as they gently blew on the petals.
“It’s called huffing and puffing,” said Karen Myers, who is a volunteer with the group Petal Pushers assigned to dealing with all things floral.
More than a fairy-tale phenomenon, “huffing and puffing” at the Rose Parade means forcing flowers to open up before they’re ready so they’ll look presentable for the New Year’s Day event in Pasadena.
Warm breath on flowers may seem illogical as blooms often need cooler temperatures to look their finest. But the current cold weather — the 2015 Rose Parade may be the coldest one in the event’s history — has kept the flowers taut and they need an extra push to open up their petals.
The cold can particularly wreak havoc on some exotic flowers.
Float designers with Phoenix Decorating Co. blasted heaters overnight at buckets of bright orange upright Heliconia and deep maroon hanging Heliconia, which thrive in warmer climates, to keep them from freezing inside their flower tent.
A 21-year-old Sahuarita resident will ride on the Donate Life float honoring organ donation during Thursday’s Rose Parade in Pasadena.
Jazmyn Creason, who had a successful liver transplant in 2011 at Stanford University Medical Center’s Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, will be part of a float that includes both organ donors and recipients.
Creason is one of 30 organ, tissue and cornea recipients from across the country who will ride on the Donate Life float, and the only recipient from Arizona, according to Jacqueline Keidel, a spokeswoman for the Donor Network of Arizona.
Princess Cruises will be appearing in its first-ever Rose Parade in Pasadena with a float featuring the original cast of The Love Boat television show.
In honor of the 50th anniversary of the cruise line, the cast will be riding on the ship’s bow as it cruises down the 5-1/2 mile parade route. The float will also depict the line’s newest ship, Regal Princess, and will represent some of the world’s most popular destinations and landmarks.
The morning of January first ushers in new year, and with it, the 126th Annual Tournament of Roses Parade, a New Year’s morning tradition dating back to 1890 and reaching 50 million viewers, including many who have camped out all night along Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena, California, and many more across the country who will watch on their television sets. This year’s theme is “Inspiring Stories,” and several groups have looked to Asian-American history and cultures for stories and inspiration. These are the floats to look out for in 2015.
With only a couple days left before the Rose Parade, float designers are putting the petals to the metal, and the wood, and the Styrofoam.
Actually, designers have to put flowers on every exposed surface before their floats can appear in the annual Tournament of Roses Parade. Thousands of volunteers help by putting the petals on by hand.
In a frigid barn near the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, members of the Japanese American community looked on with pride Sunday as four of five World War II veterans riding in the 126th Rose Parade each placed a flower on the “Go for Broke” float.
Among the crowd was Susan Uyehara-Contreras of Walnut, whose father, Kazuo Uyehara, served in Company B of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. A day earlier, she and her family had helped decorate the bald eagle that tops the float. Her dad died four years ago.
“He would have been in awe,” she said.
PASADENA, Calif. (KABC) — A woman who was denied the honor of riding in the Rose Parade in 1958 because of her race will finally get her chance in 2015.
Joan Williams, 83, was named Miss Crown City in 1958, representing Pasadena. It was an honor she received after being nominated by her coworkers at city hall.
However, she was denied the honor after city officials discovered she is African American. She said it was devastating to be told she wasn’t worthy because of her race.
“For my co-workers to have found me worthy and want me to be the one to represent them, that was quite a feather in my cap,” she said. “And then to pull the rug from under me and quit speaking to me, it was like they were angry with me for their assumptions.”
PASADENA, Calif. (KABC) — For the first time in its 126 year history, the Rose Parade will feature a float dedicated to Sikh-Americans.
With New Year’s Day just around the corner, preparations for that float and all the others are well underway. Volunteers with Phoenix Decorating Co. were hard at work Friday at two huge warehouses in Pasadena.
For a faith group trying to spread awareness and understanding about its American heritage, there’s no bigger platform than the Rose Parade.
The heritage of Sikh Americans will be reflected and celebrated on a Rose Parade float on Jan. 1 in front of a global audience of 80 million people. The idea for the float sprang from a mission undertaken by Rashpal Singh Dhindsa, founder and president of the United Sikh Mission in Fontana, to spread more public awareness about Sikh Americans and the Sikh faith, which began in India. Elements of the float reflect the 125-year history of Sikh Americans, from their beginnings in agriculture and railroad work, to their involvement today in the fields of law, public safety, the military and academia, among many other endeavors.
A couple weeks before the Rose Parade, its first Sikh-themed float was still very much under construction in a Pasadena warehouse. Rashpal Dhindsa’s humanitarian group, the United Sikh Mission, is sponsoring the float and if he was nervous, it wasn’t showing.
Kiwanis International will kick off its 100th birthday with major volunteer efforts on Dry Decoration Day, Saturday, December 20, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., at the Floral Decoration daily from December 26 to December 31st, 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. and during their Special 100th birthday celebration on Tuesday, December 30th, 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. (located on the apron of Rosemont Pavilion). More than 7,000 Kiwanis volunteers will help decorate several Rose Parade floats…
Families are decorating floral tributes for the Donate Life float in the Rose Parade. “The Never-Ending Story” will feature an open book releasing 60 butterflies that represent the lives that can be saved by a single donor.
In celebration of its 125-year history, the Sikh American community will have its own float in the 2015 Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif. on New Year’s Day, marking the first time the Indian American community will be represented in the annual parade of flowers, music and sports.
Phoenix Decorating Company will open its doors to host the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Student Ambassador Program on Thursday, November 6. The program, which began in 1998, was started to expand the Tournament of Roses outreach to young people in the community, beyond just the Queen and Court Program. The students who are invited to the program live in the Trustee Area of the Pasadena Area Community College District. Chuck Hayes (Sponsor Relations), Sean McMinimy (Production Manager) and Brian Dancel (Communications/Media Relations) will be...read more