I love parades. I started marching on drill teams when I was 7 years old. Several members of my family were involved in dance and drill team. My drill team was called the “Sailorettes” and I was part of the junior squad. I competed in countless parades and field competitions. However, as a high school sophomore, I fondly recall taking a 26-hour bus trip from San Jose, Calif., to Scottsdale, Ariz., for the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl Parade®. I attended Independence High School, and was on the 76th Calvary Marching Band. It was thrilling appearing in a nationally-televised parade! Back then, we had more than 250 students, were nationally-ranked, and had appeared in the Macy*s Thanksgiving Day Parade®, as well as, the Rose Parade®.
Our uniforms were an updated style of union soldiers in the colors of red, white and blue. We practiced day and night for that trip. Literally, we held 10-hour day band camp – during Christmas break prior to the trip. Marching band, along with drill and dance competition were family events. Many times, it was my mom and Aunt Johnnie Mae, who helped sew the missing pieces of the uniforms and costumes. Thankfully, Aunt Johnnie Mae recorded the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl Parade (on her VHS recorder). She later showed the videotape of me twirling flags during a family gathering. Aunt Johnnie Mae gleamed as played the videotape. Through her encouragement, I decided to tackle twirling flags and later dancing for my school’s drill line.
While the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl Parade® was a wonderful experience, I’ve always been drawn to the beauty and pageantry of the Rose Parade. Initially, my 7-year-old will tell you she loves the parade’s horses: the palominos, mustangs and Budweiser Clydesdales! But now, she has a greater appreciation for the elegant flowers used in the Rose Parade! After watching each year’s parade, my kids and I vowed to volunteer for the following year’s Rose Parade floats. Well, our “big” moment finally occurred!
On Dec. 14, 2014, we attended Dole Family Day, along with a host of other volunteers and families to help decorate Fiesta Floats for the 2015 Rose Parade. Like me, my girls were ecstatic about this unique opportunity, as well as, receive hands-on lessons about the various magnificent roses, chrysanthemums, lilies, lotus and other decorative fresh flowers. It’s amazing how sketches and designs for the following year’s float sometimes start as early as the day after the Rose Parade ends. However, because of fresh flower use and tournament rules, official pre-decorative cutting doesn’t begin until Thanksgiving weekend, and runs until Dec. 25, 8am-11pm. Full decorative placement happens daily: Dec. 26 until Dec. 31, 8am-11pm.
DOLE’s 2015 entry, “Rhythm of Hawaii” was designed and crafted by the award-winning Fiesta Parade Floats. They’ve created 20 consecutive Sweepstakes Trophy Winners in the Rose Parade, including DOLE’s previous entries in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014. Lei Po’o (head lei) along with other gorgeous leis worn by the float riders and hula performers were especially made by Hawaiian floral designers for the Dole Fiesta float!
“Girl Scouts come in two hour shifts to cut dry materials like straw flowers and chrysanthemums,” says Heather. The Pasadena-area high school junior has been volunteering for as long as she can remember. Her grandfather, Darryl S. Hallie, continues to serve on the Rose Parade® committee for the past 35 years. He’s Vice Chair of Community Relations. When asked what brings Heather back every year. She looks around at her relatives, Dutch and Tara, before easily responding, “All of us come back every year for our family. Volunteering is a tradition! We all live far away from each other and this is the time when we spend quality time together.” Tara chimes in, “The fun part is Dec. 30 –31, when we do the “all-nighter” because we have judging the next day. We’re out here cheering for everyone, not just our Dole pineapple float, but for every Fiesta float. It’s an incredible feeling!”
As Vice Chair of Community Relations, Darryl provides an overview of the Rose Parade®’s legacy and vision to the community. There’s no question of the hard work and dedication that Darryl and his family have provided this event over the decades. “I wouldn’t know what to do with my time if I wasn’t volunteering here every year,” says Dutch, who smiles while sweeping.
I, too, am grateful for this unique opportunity. Now, my 7-year-old can brag to her friends about helping to paste manzanita flower leaves on the 2015 Dole Fiesta float! After all that hard “work,” we munched on delicious tacos and burritos supplied by the Kogi Food Truck. We also enjoyed out-of-this world toasted cheese sandwiches from The Grilled Cheese! My youngest even climbed on the rock wall – twice and got stuck on the Velcro wall! Of course, both my 15 year-old and younger daughter couldn’t leave without visiting the face painting booth. And, being the princess that I am, I had to take a picture with the 2015 Rose Queen and her Royal Court. I couldn’t resist. Yes, I can officially check a few more items off my bucket list! We had a terrific time at Dole Family Day! I can’t wait ’till next year!
* We were invited to attend Dole Family Day courtesy of Dole Packaging.