Roses on Parade:
FTD’s New Years Tradition

For more than 60 years, FTD has been a part of the premiere New Year’s Day celebration – the Rose Parade in Pasadena, CA. Once again, FTD is proud to be the Official Floral Partner of the Tournament of Roses.

The most visible contribution FTD makes to the Rose Parade is the beautiful floral décor on the antique cars and carriages that carry the parade’s VIPs down the historic parade route. As a design expert and FTD Education Consultant, I am proud to be the visionary for the Rose Parade VIP décor.

Chinen Standing Far

The selection process for the VIP vehicles begins several months out to find the right car or carriage to honor the Tournament of Roses President, Rose Parade Grand Marshal, Rose Bowl Hall of Fame inductees, the Mayor of Pasadena and their families. Once the vehicle selections are final, my work begins. Each car’s floralscape is designed with special elements to reflect the personality of the VIP. I select a color palette and order the flowers and foliage from FTD Flower Exchange. I can envision the final design in my head before I even arrive on-site in Pasadena.

2015_Mayor of Pasadena, Bill Bogaard

My inspiration comes from the unique individuals who will ride in the equally unique vehicles. Sticks of butter were placed in the design the year southern cooking queen Paula Dean was Grand Marshal, chimpanzees the year of Jane Goodall, and most recently Olympic rings for the late sprinter Louis Zamperini.

Keith with Jane Goodall and Patricia Gomez

Since 2006, I arrive in Pasadena on Christmas Day with Patricia Gomez AIFD, and our work continues until the last vehicle is driven from the decorating tent on New Year’s Day to the parade route. As the keeper of the “tie point” technique, which is the secret decorating method passed down years ago from Pasadena florist Jacob Maarse, I meticulously follow the floral design mechanics required to assure both stability and protection for the cars and carriages.

Pre-decorated cars

When the flower shipments arrive directly to the decorating tent in Pasadena, a team of student volunteers are on hand. They help with processing flowers and “seeding” the FTD logo signage affixed to each vehicle.  Yes, even the signs need to be covered with natural products like seeds and flower petals!


This year, I am excited to host some very special guests who have won an up close and personal tour behind the scenes: Texas State Expo winner Debbie Woltmann from Brenham Floral Company in Brenham, TX, and the FTD Everyone Loves a Parade Sweepstakes winner Richard Kraus from Fred’s Flowers and Gifts in Hayward, CA. Plus, FTD will again receive “California Grown” certification from the California Cut Flower Commission for featuring 100% of the flowers grown in California on the VIP vehicles.

Phew! It’s a busy time in Pasadena, and I am so honored to be a part of it each year!


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