When the sun is shining on the snow-capped San Gabriel Mountains framed by azure skies and palm trees on a cool New Year’s Day morning, locals call it a “move to California day.” It’s exactly that kind of picture that the Rose Parade founders and Southern California real estate agents were promoting when the first Rose Parade kicked off on Jan. 1, 1890.
Photos of horses, carriages, and automobiles covered in roses in the middle of winter were mailed back to the Midwest, and Midwesterners responded by railing themselves out to California. It was the bounty of California that attracted them, and it’s the bounty of California that the California Cut Flower Commission (CCFC) would like to bring back to the Rose Parade.
Kasey Cronquist, CEO/Ambassador of the California Cut Flower Commission, is an enthusiastic proponent of what he calls the “California palette” in Rose Parade float design. He told Examiner that the purpose of the original parade, to inspire interest in California, can become a priority again through the use of locally grown products.
“So much grown in California could be used,” he said. “Builders could offer designers and clients a California palette.”
He would like to “flip the switch on the paradigm” of where materials for floats are obtained. While the Agricultural Council of California states that agriculture is California’s number one, industry, Kasey Cronquist acknowledges that presently, California cannot provide all the materials for Rose Parade floats. Rose and carnations crops are not as extensive as they were in the past, for example, and many botanicals are imported from foreign countries.
These concerns are why CCFC has set the bar at only 85 percent of California grown flowers and roses for the floral decorations to obtain certification as a “California Grown” float. Of more than 40 floats in the Rose Parade, only two received California Cut Flower Commission certification in 2013 and two in 2012: Cal Poly Universities “Tuxedo Air” and “To the Rescue,” South Pasadena “Sailing the Sea of Knowledge” and Kit-Cat Clocks “Timeless Fun for Everyone.”
Click on the list button for five floats that use California Grown materials.
Cal Poly, with its agricultural and engineering schools has a long-time commitment to the state, and Kit-Cat Clocks insisted that Fiesta Parade Floats use California materials on the float. CCFC worked with South Pasadena for the 2013 Rose Parade, and Cronquist described the South Pasadena Tournament of Roses organization as “zealous” and “committed.”
After reading “Burbank Rose Parade float displays innovative ‘found’ floral materials” in this column, CCFC reached out to the Burbank Tournament of Roses Association for 2014. “We would really like to talk to all self-built float organizations,” Cronquist said. “Help them to become ‘California Grown’….Help them identify how to do it.”
All except the Kit-Cat float are self-built; that is, volunteer or school organizations design, build, decorate, and raise funds for their floats as an act of community pride. CCFC plans on working with them before doing a push with the professional builders.
“This is a one-float-at-a-time opportunity for us…to help achieve the goal of being California grown again,” he said.
There are a lot of opportunities in float design, he said, and designers could realign their thinking around the “bounty of California.” He would like to connect with R. Scott Jenkins, the Tournament of Roses president for 2014, to discuss it.
Kasey Cronquist believes, “The Rose Parade has gotten so far away from the original intent. It’s a huge opportunity to bring attention to floats” decorated with California roses and flowers.
“I think in the case of California grown concept…the core of it, the purpose of it is to have a basis that was fundamental to the basis of the parade. Inspiring that is our hope. Not because you don’t want to involve the rest of the world, but for the world to recognize” the Rose Parade’s home state.
While the California Grown certification applies to florals only, CCFC encourages the use of other California materials as well. Flowers open the door to California providing other botanicals such as potatoes, seeds, nuts, and dry materials and can benefit California farmers.
“What an opportunity for the parade to help tell about our state!” Cronquist said. “It’s a great opportunity for teams and farmers of California.”
Cronquist cited the desire of consumers for local products, and said that trends support a return to California grown materials for Rose Parade floats. He mentioned Michelle Obama’s book American Grown as an example.
“Consumers are ripe for this. Consumers are leading this. The story is we know in our own research they would prefer to buy California grown flowers,” even if that means paying more for them. “Here we have an opportunity to embrace a great trend and bring the parade back to its roots. It’s the consummate opportunity to see what’s in our back yard on January 1.”
Echoing a statement made by Burbank Tournament of Roses Association vice president Steve Edward on BTORA’s efforts to implement ecologically sound practices, Cronquist affirmed, “It’s better on the environment. It’s the right thing to do.”
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