Lizard on the Cal Poly SLO float
Cal Poly always produces clever and colorful floats. Their floats are also distinctive because they use California grown flowers. A press release from the California Cut Flower Commission commended four floats from this year's parade for using California grown flowers. Floats from Cal Poly, Miracle-Gro, FTD and Real California Milk, all were decorated in flowers and greenery grown in-state.
It is uncommon these days for any Rose Parade float to use California grown flowers. As PSN"s Steve Scauzillo wrote last year, most of the flowers in the Rose Parade are from overseas. About 80% of the flowers used on parade floats come from South America or Asia. (Why do so few Rose Parade floats use California-grown flowers?) By using cheap labor, growers overseas can sell flowers at much lower cost than domestic growers.
The California Cut Flower Commission's release recalls another time. The release points out that "The Rose Parade originated in 1889 to showcase the bounty of what is grown in California during a time of year when much of the country is covered in snow." As the Tournament of Roses puts it, the Valley Hunt Club conceived of the parade as an event to follow an array of outdoor games. "The abundance of fresh flowers, even in the midst of winter, prompted the club to add another showcase for Pasadena’s charm: a parade to precede the competition, where entrants would decorate their carriages with hundreds of blooms."
Though a wildly successful international event accompanied by all manner of glitz and fame, the parade's inspiration was rooted in Pasadena's natural and cultivated beauty. That's worth remembering.