How Humboldt Helps the Pasadena Rose Parade

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Cal Poly Universities' 2023 Rose Parade float made in collaborate with Cal Poly Pomona and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
Cal Poly Universities' 2023 Rose Parade float made in collaborate with Cal Poly Pomona and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

Thousands of flowers are sent out from Arcata’s Sun Valley Floral Farms for millions of Americans to see every year.

The Sun Valley Farms, a huge donor to the Rose Tournament in Pasadena, provided hundreds of irises and ornamental kale to this year’s Cal Poly Universities float.

“We’ve supported the rose parade for many many years,” Bill Prescott, Sun Valley’s mass marketing manager, said. “The traditional [flowers] we do for the Rose Parade are iris. Our beautiful blue flower. So, anytime you’re looking [on] at the Rose Parade and you see blue on [those] floats a lot of the time those flowers were grown right here in Arcata.”

The Cal Poly Universities floats are created in collaborate with Pomona and San Luis Obispo University and the project is completely student run. They have submitted entries almost every year since 1949. This year’s float theme was “Road to Reclamation”. A piece shining light on nature’s regenerative power.

“We have a concept contest that’s actually open to the public,” Quinn Akemon, the CPRF Decorations Chair, explained. “The Tournament of Roses announces the theme of the parade in like late January. And then people can draw up potential concepts that they feel relate to that theme and then submit them to us. There’s typically more than 100.”

This year’s parade theme was “Turning the Corner”, a phase chosen to imply rising above one’s challenges.

Everything used in the construction of the float came from either dried or fresh plant life. The irises and decorate kale from Sun Valley Arcata were used around the base of the float and were some of the last elements to be added before showtime.

“The irises are interesting.” Quinn said. “Because they take some special care to open all the way and we want to make sure that they’re completely open [by time].”

“Road to Reclamation” won the 2023 extraordinaire award, one of the highest honors to receive at the parade. Since then, the float has been returned to Cal Poly Pomona University where overtime only pictures will remain of its legacy will remain.

This has been Matthew Taylor with Redwood News.