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Lions Clubs wins Tournament Special Trophy with ‘Matteo’s Dream’

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A little boy who could neither see nor walk dreamed of a playground where children of all abilities could play together. His name was Matteo, and the Lions Clubs determined to make his dream come true. What better to fit the 2014 Rose Parade theme of “Dreams Come True” than a replica of this playground in flowers, “Lions Clubs Built Matteo’s Dream.”

Lions Clubs International, in conjunction with the Concord, Calif. Lions Club and the city’s Parks, Recreation and Open Space Commission, created the first “all abilities playground” in the San Francisco Bay area in 2007. Children who cannot see, hear or walk can safely play alongside children who can.

The float, designed by Dave Pittman of Phoenix Decorating Company, depicted the treehouse play structures from that playground and won the Tournament Special Trophy for Exceptional Merit In Multiple Classifications.

Matteo, who had cerebral palsy, passed away on March 16, 2010 at age 11, and the float was dedicated to honor his memory.

The list attached to this article gives details on the float, but it’s also worth taking a look at photos of the actual playground in Hillcrest Park, Concord, Calif. and reading a short article about the details of construction by David DeBolt of the Contra Costa Times.

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If you have a question or would like a reply to your comment, please post on Facebook at All Things Rose Parade or email The theme of the 125th Rose Parade and 100th Rose Bowl Game on Jan. 1, 2014 was “Dreams Come True.” Subscribe to Tournament of Roses Examiner by clicking the "Subscribe" link for the latest news and for upcoming announcements for 2015.

Matteo's Dream
Matteo's Dream Ramona Monteros

Matteo's Dream

The sign set between the soaring treehouse structures reads “Matteo’s Dream: a playground for children of all abilities.”  Instead of lifelike butterflies with flapping wings, the float featured fanciful cutouts of happy animals and bright flowers.  Riders were Lions Clubs International President Barry J. Palmer and his wife, Anne, of Australia; four prominent Lions Clubs members; and a wheelchair-bound child.

A playground for children of all abilities
A playground for children of all abilities Ramona Monteros

A playground for children of all abilities

The structures on the Rose Parade float matched the height and features of the real structures, with five platform treehouses and a slide.  Mounds of brightly colored roses, gerbera, daisies and mums cover the deck.  Dry materials for the playground include statice, strawflower, beans, peas, seeds, corn husk, silverleaf, walnut shell, parsley and coffee.

Matteo's smile
Matteo's smile Laura Berthold Monteros

Matteo's smile

The inspiration: Matteo Henderson, a child whose smile “lit up the room” and who wanted a playground for children of all abilities.  Lions Clubs International followed through with a foundation grant towards the cost of building the playground in his home town of Concord, Calif.  This photo was taken during Deco Week in the Phoenix Decorating Company float barn.