by Dot Cannon
‘”Look at that!” gasped a woman in the stands.
“That” was Cal Poly Universities’ 70th float, “Dreams Take Flight”, making its appearance in Pasadena’s 129th Rose Parade® on Monday morning.
“Dreams Take Flight” was 54 feet long. 10,000 roses and about 24,000 chrysanthemums made up its design, according to Cal Poly Universities’ “Cal Poly News” website. It depicted three animals rarely seen together, as aviators: of small planes: a koala, an otter and a red panda. It was the only student-built float in the Rose Parade®.
And it had just won the “Past President Trophy”, that morning, for “Most Outstanding Innovation in the Use of Floral and Non-Floral Materials”.
But now, at the corner of Orange Grove and Colorado Boulevard, the students had activated the animation.
The planes dipped their wings and soared above the “clouds” before the float went on its way.
Cal Poly Universities’ award-winning float was just one of many highlights of the 2018 Rose Parade®. For New Year’s Day 2018, a total of 44 floats, 20 equestrian units and 20 marching bands would celebrate the parade’s theme, “Making a Difference”.
Music, history and inspiration
The band traveling the furthest distance, this year, for the Rose Parade® were Australia’s Marching Koalas, from Newcastle, New South Wales. This band was formed in 1982 after a visit from its Sister City band. Arcadia High School’s Apache Marching Band, according to the official parade program.
As of January 1, 2018, the Marching Koalas were back for their fourth Rose Parade® appearance.
Just after them came a favorite among the equestrian units: the cast of “Ramona”, California’s official outdoor play. Based on the book by Helen Hunt Jackson, the show is a romance set in California in the 1800s. With this year’s “Ramona” performances in Hemet in April, the show will be celebrating its 95th season.
Among the marching bands, several were celebrating milestones, on New Year’s Day, 2018.
From Chitre, Panama, Banda de Musica Herberto Lopez had just marked 50 years of representing their country. 2018 was their second appearance in the Rose Parade®, after making history in 2014 as the first Panamanian band chosen to represent Latin America in the Rose Parade®.
The BOSS (Bands of Santiago Sharks), from Corona, California, were back for their second Rose Parade® appearance, as they commemorated their school’s twentieth anniversary.
A Rose Parade® debut
And making their first appearance in the Rose Parade® were the Homestead High School Mighty Mustang Marching Band, from Cupertino, California.
This band from the heart of Silicon Valley played a medley of California-themed songs, including “California Dreaming” and “California Girls”.
Meanwhile, Pasadena City College’s Tournament of Roses® Honor Band made its eighty-ninth consecutive march down Colorado Boulevard.
This iconic band, founded in 1930 by PCC Band Director Audre Stong, is the official band of the Tournament of Roses®. For New Year’s Day 2018, they played the Disney “Fantastmic!” theme song, and “With a Little Help From My Friends” as they headed up Orange Grove to Colorado Boulevard.
Of course, innovation was the order of the day among the floats. So was a lot of heart.
The “Donate Life” float, constructed by Phoenix Decorating Company, was themed “The Gift of Time”. It featured a twelve-foot-tall Aztec sun calendar.
On the calendar were portraits of organ donors who had given “the gift of time” to someone else.
A “first” for the Rose Parade®
With The Grand Tour: an Amazon Prime Original’s float entry, came a Rose Parade® first-ever innovation.
Themed “Make Your Own Momentum” these three individual units were powered manually!
Eight people per unit would push the three floats for the parade’s five-and-a-half-mile route. On the three wheels were images of both the show’s three hosts and symbols of the adventures it covers.
As the 129th Rose Parade® drew to a close, the Broken Horn Ropers, with their guests, the Hesperia Wranglers Rodeo Queen and Court, were a standout.
In their 12th year of riding in the Rose Parade, they demonstrated rope tricks for the crowd.
The Broken Horn Ropers, from Baldwin Park, California, are culturally diverse and range in age from 5 to 70, according to the Tournament of Roses®.
When the Long Beach Mounted Police appeared, as the final equestrian unit in this year’s parade, their sense of humor added one more note of fun to the morning.
Not only did they ride palominos–but one of the members appeared to have found one that needed a ride!
“Wasn’t that a great parade?” asked a White Suiter, just minutes after the 2018 Closing Show featuring Andy Grammer. (And it certainly was!)
Happy New Year, Pasadena! And thank you to everyone who “made a difference”–and put on a spectacular show in the process.
This is the conclusion to our 3-part series on the 2018 Rose Parade®. Tickets for the 2019 Rose Parade® will be available on February 1, 2018.