Posted by Maureen McKinley on Nov 20, 2017

First and Foremost, I wish to thank the members of the Rotary eClub of Southwest USA for their support of the Float promoting Rotary International and The Rotary Foundation in the annual Tournament of Roses, Rose Parade.  This is the fourth consecutive year the Float has received your support!

2017 Rotary Rose Parade Float

As hopefully most of you watched the Rose Parade last year, you are aware that our Float won the Princess Trophy for the most beautiful float under 35 feet.

Here is a link to the video of the Float (KTLA.)  Simply scroll down to almost the bottom of the home page it is the first video.  We also received two extra bonuses.  First, National Advisor Chris Cochrane was able to pull some strings and get a featurette by ABC during the coverage of our Float and Rotary of over 2 minutes 45 secs!  HUGE!!!

Second, the Tournament of Roses selected our Float to feature on its website,, to announce the 2018 Rose Parade and how to obtain further information.  WOW!!!

Personal History With Our Float

My father John M. McKinley PDG 5260 and Polio Plus Zone Coordinator (1925-2009) and I have been involved in this wonderful public relations and FUN project since 1992.  We are the first father daughter “couple” that have been Chairs of this wonderful committee.  My dad in 1997:

The float titled “Caring for the World’s Children” provided an opportunity to reveal the shining achievements of the PolioPlus campaign.  The float featured three medical officers on three different continents, each surrounded by children who have been immunized against polio and other childhood diseases.  Colorful flowers, animals, vegetation and monuments depicted the different cultures were immunization efforts have been carried out.

The float was constructed by Charisma Floats.

John McKinley, PDG, Chair, La Canada Flintridge RC, District 5260.

And me in 2009:

The theme was “Make Dreams Real”

The theme was based on RI President D. K. Lee’s dream and deep desire to provide all the world’s children with clean water, health care, education and happy and peaceful lives.  The float design was based on Shakespeare’s romantic comedy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, one of his most beloved and entertaining plays.  The float depicted a beautiful garden setting with three exquisitely decorated fairies.  Seven women representing the Southern California and Nevada district of Rotary International rode on the float in celebration of the year 2009, which marked the 20th anniversary of women involved in Rotary in the United States.

Raul Rodriguez designed the float which was constructed by Charisma Floats and was decorated by hundreds of volunteers from Rotary, Rotaract, and Interact clubs.

Maureen McKinley, Chair, District 5300.

Brief History and Introducing The 2018 Rotary Rose Float

The RRPFC has been promoting Rotary International and The Rotary Foundation for 39 consecutive years.  The parade averages a live audience of 700,000 and is broadcasted on various media channels.  Last year, over 45.5 in the US and 28 million more households worldwide watched the Rose Parade and our prize-winning Float.

Our Float design is a whimsical bunny gardener admiring his recently planted 17-foot peach tree bearing 6 peaches representing Rotary’s Six Areas of Focus.  Our Float theme is “Planting the Seeds of Service.”  Dovetailing with some of Rotary International President Ian Riseley’s messages for this year:

  • Green Message: “Making a difference by planting a tree for each of its 1.2 million members by Earth Day April 22, 2018.” “I believe the greater result will be a Rotary that recognizes our responsibility not only to the people on our planet, but the planet itself.”
  • Peace Message: “Six Areas of Focus for Peace” – The nearly 17-foot tree bears 6 peaches representing Rotary’s Six Areas of Focus.  A tag on the tree clearly shows the symbols of Rotary’s Six Areas of Focus.  To further embrace the Peace and Green Messages, we will have a real sapling on the Float from one of Hiroshima’s A-Bomb survivor trees to promote peace and a green legacy.

Construction Photos

Float Participants Walkers and Riders

The Float Participants walkers and riders,, are all donors to the Float either thru being nominated by their sustaining district (giving $6,000+) or have individually donated/raised $6,500 to walk and $10,000 to ride.  This year’s honorary VIP riders are TRF Chair Paul Netzel who is also a member of this committee as a National Advisor and RID John Matthews for Zones 25 and 26.

Float Decorators

The Float is decorated by Rotarians, Interactors and members of the Rotary Family and is funded entirely by donations from: Rotarians; Rotary Clubs; the six founding Rotary Districts; and, 4 corporate sponsors.  The Committee's members are from over 40 Districts within USA and Canada.   Although not a project of Rotary International, RI recognizes the great value and has authorized the RRPFC to solicit Rotary Clubs throughout the USA and Canada for monetary support.

Personal Stories About Decorators and Volunteers

From 1996 through 2008, I was on the Volunteer Decorator Committee and served as Chair of that Committee for over 5 years.

My first favorite story involves a group of deaf high school students and Interactors who came to decorate.  Well, of course all teenagers want to talk while they “work” and being deaf they had to use their hands.  Well, to decorate you are using your hands.  They were having so much fun trying to both that the memory always brings a smile to my face.

My second favorite story involves a group of “important” Rotarians, all male.  They came to view the Float and decided to stay a decorate for a bit.  Although normally we require our volunteers to stay an entire shift, we made an exception for this group.  We assigned them the task of putting seeds on the Rotary International signage.  They put the sign standing up and were “throwing” the seeds on the glue surface.  Although a bit frustrated they were laughing that they couldn’t accomplish their task.  I suggested “Why don’t you lay it flat and simply pour the seeds on?”  They laughed even harder and promptly finished the sign.

My third favorite story involves Past RI President Bhichai Rattakul from Thailand.   He wasn’t very excited about coming to the Rose Parade.  He came to the decorating site and listened to the instructions given to the decorators.  The instructor said that if they started an area of decorating they had to finish that portion as how they applied the flowers (or other organic material) would differ from others. If they didn’t finish their assigned section, the decorator that did would have a different “brushstroke” and it would show on the Float.  Well, he asked to do a row of carnations on the flag that was on the Float.  His aide kept reminding him that “We have to go to our next stop.”  He refused.  He said: “I have to finish my row, so it looks perfect.”  He told that story at our Holiday party and said he was so glad he came, and he didn’t understand until he saw the beauty and complexity of the floats and how much fun the Rotarians, Rotaractors and Interactors were having, what a great project the Float is.

This new-found admiration and enthusiasm is expressed by every Rotarian – be they a President or an Interactor.  In fact, as Past Rotary President Gary Huang said in the 2015 June issue of the Rotarian: “I will always remember with great fondness, riding on the float . . .. “A picture of him riding the Float was given a prominent position in his office while serving as President.

Brief History of The Rose Parade and The Tournament of Roses, Rose Parade

On January 1, 2018, the world focuses its attention on Pasadena, California, USA, home of the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl Game.  It's a celebration more than a century old – a festival of flowers, music and sports unequaled anywhere else in the world. It's America's New Year Celebration, a greeting to the world on the first day of the year, and a salute to the community spirit and love of pageantry that have thrived in Pasadena for 129 years.

An event as large as the Tournament of Roses requires about 80,000 hours of combined manpower each year. That manpower is supplied by 935 members of the non-profit Tournament of Roses Association, a volunteer organization dedicated to presenting an internationally-recognized New Year’s celebration. Each volunteer is assigned to one of 31 committees, with responsibilities ranging from selecting parade participants to directing visitors on New Year's Day, to hosting the press headquarters for media coverage of the Rose Bowl Game, to giving presentations about the Tournament to community groups.

Nicknamed "White Suiters" because of the distinctive white uniform every volunteer wears, these enthusiastic men and women give up their evenings, weekends and holidays to ensure the success of the parade and game. A small full-time staff provides support and continuity to the volunteer organization.

This unique event began as a promotional effort by Pasadena's distinguished Valley Hunt Club. In the winter of 1890, the club members brainstormed ways to promote the "Mediterranean of the West." They invited their former East Coast neighbors to a mid-winter holiday, where they could watch games such as chariot races, jousting, foot races, polo and tug-of-war under the warm California sun. The abundance of fresh flowers, even during winter, prompted the club to add another showcase for Pasadena's charm: a parade would precede the competition, where entrants would decorate their carriages with hundreds of blooms. The Tournament of Roses was born. 

Who else has a Float in the Rose Parade?

  • 24 Hour Fitness (AES)
  • Ag PhD TV and Radio (AES)
  • AIDS Healthcare Foundation (Fiesta Parade Floats)
  • American Armenian Rose Float Association, Inc. (Phoenix Decorating Company)
  • American Honda Motor Company (Phoenix Decorating Company)
  • Burbank Tournament of Roses Association (Self-Built)
  • Cal Poly Universities (Self-Built)
  • China Airlines (AES)
  • City of Alhambra, CA (Phoenix Decorating Company)
  • City of Carson (Fiesta Parade Floats)
  • City of Hope (Phoenix Decorating Company)
  • City of Los Angeles (Fiesta Parade Floats)
  • City of Riverside (Fiesta Parade Floats)
  • City of Torrance (Fiesta Parade Floats)
  • Dole Packaged Foods (Fiesta Parade Floats)
  • Donate Life (Paradiso Parade Floats)
  • Downey Rose Float Association (Self-Built)
  • Farmers Insurance (Phoenix Decorating Company)
  • Kaiser Permanente (Fiesta Parade Floats)
  • Kiwanis International (Phoenix Decorating Company)
  • La Cañada Flintridge Tournament of Roses Association (Self-Built)
  • Lions Clubs International (Phoenix Decorating Company)
  • Lucy Pet (Fiesta Parade Floats)
  • Lutheran Laymen's League (Phoenix Decorating Company)
  • Miracle-Gro (Fiesta Parade Floats)
  • Northwestern Mutual (Fiesta Parade Floats)
  • Odd Fellows Rebekahs Rose Float (Phoenix Decorating Company)
  • Rotary (Phoenix Decorating Company)
  • Shriners Hospitals for Children (Phoenix Decorating Company)
  • Sierra Madre Rose Float Association (Self-Built)
  • Singpoli American BD (Paradiso Parade Floats)
  • South Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association (Self-Built)
  • The Forum (Phoenix Decorating Company)
  • The Grand Tour – An Amazon Prime Exclusive Series (Paradiso Parade Floats)
  • The UPS Store, Inc. (Paradiso Parade Floats)
  • Trader Joe's (Phoenix Decorating Company)
  • Underground Service Alert of Southern California (DIGALERT) (Fiesta Parade Floats)
  • United Sikh Mission (Phoenix Decorating Company)
  • Western Asset Management Company (Phoenix Decorating Company)

Broadcast Partners

The Rose Parade will be broadcast live in the U.S. beginning at 8 a.m. PST, on Monday, January 1, 2018. Please check your local broadcast listings for more information.

The Rose Parade also airs in many countries around the world.  Here are our Key International Outlets: