The 2020 Tournament of Roses Parade theme, “The Power of Hope,” provided the perfect way to start off a new year and decade — on an optimistic note that with hope, everything is possible. Once again, FTD was the Official Floral Company of the Tournament of Roses and the Sponsor of the Rose Parade Float Awards which recognize excellence in a variety of categories.
While an estimated 37 million people watch the parade on television, and another 700,000 view it in person, there are few who get to see it up close and in person. This year’s FTD sweepstakes winner, Tom Williams, TMF, and partner Chris Collum, AIFD, TMF, received an all-expenses-paid trip for two to the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl Game, among other perks. Tom is the manager of Mark Knox Flowers in Odessa, Texas, and Chris is the manager of Flowerland in Midland, Texas.
As a child, I watched the parade on TV every year. But to see the parade in person and go behind the scenes was incredible! It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Tom had decided to take a gamble and enter the sweepstakes and was “super excited” when he learned that he won. “As a child, I watched the parade on TV every year. But to see the parade in person and go behind the scenes was incredible! It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Tom comments.
Both Tom and Chris remarked that viewing the beginning of the parade was especially spectacular, and their seats enabled them to see all the floats and people up close. Another highlight was touring the Rosemont Pavilion to see everyone at work on the VIP vehicles, but also witnessing the entire process of how the floats come together. They also happened to be in the right place at the right time, arriving at the Rosemont Pavilion just in time to see iconic actress Rita Moreno, one of three Grand Marshal’s this year.
Conducting and overseeing the behind the scenes work is FTD Education Consultant J. Keith White AIFD. He has served as the FTD Lead Designer of the Rose Parade’s VIP Entries for the past 16 years. Keith and Pete Samek AIFD, an FTD Quality Services Representative, along with the rest of the skilled design team, decorated 10 vehicles – nearly twice as many than most years — that carry the parade’s special guests. Approximately 12,000 stems provided by the FTD Flower Exchange and California flower growers were used to decorate the antique vehicles and carriages. FTD once again received the distinction of “Certified California Grown” for using more than 85% of local product on the vehicles. A team of students also assisted with decorating the signage for each vehicle.
Much of the planning and designs are developed about nine months in advance, and the days leading up to the parade are filled with carrying out those plans. “Each morning starts with a crew meeting followed by a mid-day touch base where we discuss the goals we still need to meet and concludes with an end of the day session to make sure we are all on the same page to start the next day,” Keith explains.
“We were able to successfully complete all of this additional work on time with an incredible crew that worked as one,” he continues. “As always, it’s rewarding for me to see the beauty of the decorated cars in the morning light when they roll out onto the street for the parade. It’s the culmination of months of work on full display.”
This was definitely a ‘Wow!’ experience. It was very impressive and would recommend that everyone put it on their bucket list.
“Keith is an amazing designer and I have always loved his work,” Tom says. “This year’s colors and grouping on the cars were amazing! I now know that a lot of people and work go into the parade and festivities, and there are a ton of floral products used! This was definitely a ‘Wow!’ experience. It was very impressive and would recommend that everyone put it on their bucket list.”
Reflecting on the Rose Parade experience, Tom concludes, “Life is short. So, travel whenever possible and make memories! I want to send a huge thank you to FTD and Janet Justus, FTD Education and Events Specialist, for this memorable travel experience!”
(Photos courtesy of Stephen Coleman).0