In a stunning debut, Paradiso Parade Floats won the Director’s Trophy honoring Jacob Maarse with “Celebrating Our Journey” in the 124th Rose Parade. The float was sponsored by the City of San Gabriel, the birthplace of Los Angeles, in honor of its centennial. The Director’s Trophy honors “Outstanding Artistic Merit in Design & Floral Presentation.”
The city celebrates 100 years as an incorporated entity in 2013, but San Gabriel’s European history dates to 1771 with the founding of Mission San Gabriel Arcángel. In 1781, pobladores were sent from the mission to settle what became the City of Los Angeles. In 1852, San Gabriel became the original township of Los Angeles County under American rule.
The float, designed by Charles Meier, Paradiso’s founder, depicts a plaza by the iconic Grapevine Arbor. The arbor was built several decades after the mission, but mimics its style. A two-wheeled oxcart, the most common conveyance in mission days, was pulled by a team of oxen. Citrus trees and baskets filled with hundreds of pounds of real grapes, oranges, lemons and limes reflected the agricultural richness of the San Gabriel mission lands.
Riders were chosen to represent the past and present diversity of San Gabriel: Chief Anthony Morales in full dress and Camila Lopez of the indigenous Tongva (Gabrielino) people; the Rev. Bruce Wellems of the San Gabriel Mission; Mayor Kevin Sawkins driving the oxcart; and Gabrielino High School seniors Jacqueline Chai and Kelly Ngo, who were chosen because of their community involvement. Members of Folklor Pasión Mexicana de Los Angeles performed authentic folk dances to period music played by the Arias Troubadours.
The intricate baskets, decorated with “a virtually endless assortment of beans and seeds,” according to Paradiso, reflect the exceptional basket making skill and art of the Tongva. Each seed was applied with tweezers to ensure an authentic appearance.
Fine layers of rolled oats, cinnamon, sesame seed and walnut shell gave an aged texture to the Grapevine Arbor, and sundried sheet moss dusted with cinnamon created the realistic fur of the oxen. The wheels of the oxcart turned and the oxen gently nodded their heads as the float proceeded along Colorado Blvd.
Other botanical materials included a dazzling array of flowers in fiery oranges, yellows and reds; roses accented with a wide variety of orchids; and strelitzia, protea and leucadendron blooming in the lush garden landscape.
The City of San Gabriel has entered 38 floats in the Rose Parade, but this was its first entry in 40 years.
The theme of the 124th Rose Parade and 99th Rose Bowl Game was “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” The 125th Rose Parade and 100th Rose Bowl Game will take place on Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014. The Tournament of Roses is a celebration that lasts several weeks in the fall and winter.
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