Downey’s float wins National Trophy at Rose Parade



DOWNEY – Downey's self-built entry in the Tournament of Roses Parade, a 53-ft. long structure featuring a real ice skating rink, smoking chimney and more than 6,000 roses, won the prestigious National Trophy today for "Best Depiction of Life in U.S.A. - Past, Present or Future." Built by a small army of volunteers and entirely self-funded, the float was the Downey Rose Float Association's 63rd consecutive entry in the Rose Parade, which was themed "Inspiring Stories."

Downey's float was titled "Home for the Holidays." It was conceptualized by Jeff Shadic, Kelley Roberts and Jason Redfox, with the final concept rendering by Thom Neighbors. 

The float is described as a “picture perfect winter wonderland.  Sitting high on a snow covered hill, nestled in the pine trees, is a custom built Victorian house, covered with yellow lentil.” The two-story house has numerous windows and window coverings, a shingled, snow-topped roof and is accented with a front porch, complete with a swing.

Accent pieces are covered with cranberry seed, sweet rice, green split pea, yellow and bronze straw flower, alfalfa and coconut. Cranberry seed and poppy seed were used in creating the  brick work on the smoking chimney.  The Victorian house was built, customized and donated by Steve Berryman.

“The road, covered in chipped coconut and orchids, showcases the one horse open sleigh adorned in cranberry seed, carrying Miss Downey Maylin Gonzalez and her court, Julie Ledesma, Isis Gomez, Christina Ledesma and Hazel Rodriguez, and military veterans Michael Edmonds (U.S. Marine),  Jeff Leach (U.S. Army) and David Dobens (U.S. Navy),” said decoration chairman Jeff Shadic. “The sleigh is pulled by a horse covered in palm fiber, sweet rice and light cinnamon, while black seaweed was used on his hoofs.  The frozen pond had two professional ice skaters, Aurora Hall and Galvani D. Hopson, who skated during the parade.”

A synthetic ice, donated by Viking Ice, was used on the float, providing the surface for the skaters to skate. The float also featured two special effects: a smoke machine, donated by Pageantry Props, used for the smoking chimney, and a snow machine, donated by Blue Haze Entertainment, hidden in the trees and used to blow snow during the duration of the parade.

The entire float measures 17 ft. tall, 18 ft. wide and 53 ft. long.

Floral chairman Jason Redfox explained the base of the float was saturated with 6,000 white roses, and the frozen river was framed with blue and white hydrangeas, blue and white iris, orchids and spider mums. The various arrangements feature red, pink and purple roses, star gazer lilies, white calla lilies, pine cones and cedar greens.

“This year’s Tournament of Roses Parade Grand Marshal is Olympian and World War II prisoner of war Louis Zamperini, who passed earlier this year,” said Roberts, the construction chairman. “A true ‘Inspiring Story’ is having military personnel ‘Home for the Holidays.” The Downey Rose Float Association is honored to have two lifetime Downey residents who have returned home from serving this country, U.S. Marine Michael Edmonds and Jeff Leach, U.S. Army.”

While the concept for the parade was approved by the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade in March, construction of the float began in September. The team of builders under the direction of Roberts consisted of Shadic, Andrew Malarkey, Mike Negrete, Jeremy Clifton, Scott Roberts, Matt Santisteven, David Castro, Alfredo Velez, Carl Johnson and Lowell Mathis.

“Home for the Holidays” departed for Pasadena Wednesday evening.  It was towed roundtrip by Titan Tow and escorted by the Downey Police Department.

“This is my favorite time every year,” said Gary DeRemer, president of the Downey Rose Float Association. “The association would not be successful without the support from the community, volunteers that help decorate the float and local businesses like Green Olive, Panera Bread, Pina Pizza House, Porto’s, Rio Hondo Event Center and Alfredo Bautista that donated meals for our volunteers.”

The float will return to Downey for public viewing Saturday evening in front of the Embassy Suites. Flowers and arrangements taken off the float will be sold, with proceeds benefiting Downey’s 2016 entry.



Published: Jan. 1, 2015 - Volume 13 - Issue 38