Throughout my life, I’ve been a Tournament of Roses Parade fan! I absolutely adore Budweiser’s Clydesdales horses. Standing over 72-feet tall with gorgeous black mane and white legs, these elite horses have been a parade favorite for more than 80 years! It’s thrilling to watch precision mounted color guards and some of the nation’s best high school marching bands perform. However, each year, my family and I eagerly look forward to seeing the wondrous floats, especially the one created by Dole Packaged Foods/Fiesta Parade Floats. For the past four years, my daughters and I have been honored with the opportunity to help decorate the float during DOLE Family Day.
Dole’s float entry has won awards for the past five years. While last year’s “Rhythm of Hawaii” float featuring a jaw-dropping zip line was awe-inspiring, this year’s “Spirit of Hawaii” levels up! The 2017 entry is a spectacular masterpiece, boasting four waterfalls, a volcano spewing real fire, while King Kamehameha and Pele, the Goddess of Earth, Fire, Water and Volcano lead the charge. Dole and Fiesta Parade Floats definitely set the bar high for this year’s “Echoes of Success” 128th Rose Parade theme.
“We’re going back to our roots, and we’re really excited about Dole’s theme,” says Monica Spiro, Associate Manager of Events for Dole. “There’s a three-dimensional feel that we’re bringing about.” Monica enjoyed sharing why Dole’s family and friends flock to this annual event. “They love it! Working on the float puts a face with a touch and makes it more personal.” She says many associates become more enthusiastic after learning how their glued plumerias form a frame for the float’s gigantic lei. Monica explains, “When they see the float, they proudly say, ‘I worked on that!’”
For Fiesta Parade Floats Project Supervisor, Darryl Bender, decorating the Dole Float is truly a family affair. Nearly 30 of Darryl’s family members travel from as far as Oregon to share in the festivities. “We work from 8 in the morning until 11 at night. And, we have two shifts with anywhere from 20-30 people per shift,” Darryl explains. As project supervisor and a member of the creative team for 30 years, Darryl is involved in the 55,000 square-foot float’s more intricate details. “We’ve got probably around 10,000 roses going in the deck. And about 8,000 going into the volcano and coming out like lava around the deck,” says Darryl. The volcanic eruption will be rise 25 feet-high and erupt with real fire, while flowers around the eruption are “volcanic red” in color. Darryl appears giddy explaining the details of his most challenging float to date. “It’s going to be a spectacular float! And, we hope the judges like it as much as we do,” Darryl says proudly.
As in previous years, we were thoroughly entertained by the day’s event. Dole brought the theme of 2017’s float, “Spirit of Hawaii,” to SoCal with a stunning luau! Along with the Dole Rose Parade® T-shirts and Limited Edition Commemorative Pins, guests received leis and grass skirts. The scrumptious Hawaiian fare included Kalua Pork, Boneless Short Ribs, BBQ Chicken, Rice and Chow Yung. Normally picky eaters, my kids devoured the island refreshments. Kids had a blast enduring the Extreme Rush Obstacle Course, and jumping in the bounce house. Many, like my 9 year-old, became living works of art thanks to the brilliant face painting by Fancypantzbodyart. My 17 year-old managed to check off a “bucket list” item after receiving a customized “Mad Hatter” balloon creation from the multi-talented magician and balloonist Harvey Simpson of FUNtastic Family Magic and Amazing Balloon Crafts. Hula dancers offered hip-shaking lessons, while a fire dancer intrigued us all with his pyrotechnic feats.
Another thrill was introducing my “little princess” to the 2017 Rose Parade Royal Court. I had a chance to briefly chat with one of the princesses. Being selected for the Royal Court is a lifelong dream for Pasadena, Calif., native Autumn Marie Lundy. “It’s amazing that I got selected. I grew up watching the parade. As I got older, I saw all the amazing things that the princesses did, and so I decided to try out,” Princess Autumn explains. She offered advice to aspiring future princess. “Definitely shoot for whatever you want to be! Go for all of your dreams. And, if you want to try out, go for it 100 percent! And, when you get to that point, just be yourself,” says the 18 year-old senior and standout soccer star. She’s looking forward to majoring in human biology at either Baylor University or the University of Oregon. Autumn wants to open a practice as a clinical nurse practitioner. Talk about squad goals… Autumn definitely has her ten year plan in order. During her free time, Autumn volunteers with Reading Partners and at Villa-Parke Community Center in Pasadena.
Dole Gives Back
Dole Packaged Foods has also teamed up with FOOD Share to help raise awareness about the hunger crisis. “I grew up watching this event, and now I’m proud to say we’ve teamed up with Dole to help raise awareness about food insecurity,” says Bonnie Atmore, president and CEO of the Oxnard-based FOOD Share of Ventura County. “Food insecurity affects millions of people. One in six residents of Ventura County, as well as the U.S. deal with some form of food insecurity. It’s our mission at FOOD Share to make nourishing food and provide effective nutrition education,” Bonnie says. Through collaborative efforts between FOOD Share and the Captain Planet Foundation, Dole participated in a “Spirit of Giving” non-perishable food drive with several Ventura County private and public schools. The top two schools, Las Colinas and Dos Caminos (both of Pleasant Valley School District) will each receive a Learning Garden from Dole and the Captain Planet Foundation. Two additional top-winning schools, Fillmore Middle School and Fillmore High School will receive $1,000 worth of science funding from Dole. Bonnie and several students from the respective winning schools will be recognized and ride atop Dole’s Rose Parade float.
Wanna help decorate the Dole float? Volunteers are welcome Dec. 27-31. For more information, call Fiesta Parade Floats, 626-610-0974, visit http://fiestaparadefloats.com or www.tournamentofroses.com/events/float-decorating for a list of volunteer opportunities. After the parade, Dole’s “Spirit of Hawaii” float along with the other 50 entries will be on display along Washington and Sierra Madre Boulevards during the Showcase of Floats, Jan 2-3. Enjoy and up-close exhibit of floral pageantry. Tickets are $13 for ages 6 and older, www.sharpseating.com.