Lions Clubs International has an interesting history participating in the Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year’s Day in Pasadena, Calif. It was a history that nearly didn’t happen.
“The first Rose Parade Lions entered was in 1948,” said Past District Governor Jon Casteel, who is a historian of Lions in the Rose Parade. “They designed, built and rode in the float. But it was so much work, they decided to never do it again.”
The Tournament of Roses Parade began on Jan. 1, 1980. It was to be an American version of the festival of Roses in Nice, France. You can read more about it here.
Since it first began, participation in the international event is by invitation only. When the Lions were invited to participate in the 59th Annual Rose Parade, it seemed like an opportunity too good to pass up.
Footage from that parade can be seen on YouTube, courtesy of a grandfather who happened to be filming from the crowd that day. The Lion’s float can be seen at 4:14 on the video.
While the Lions decided to decline invitations from the Tournament of Roses Association, they changed their mind in 1967.
Lions entered the parade and showcased a float for a second time on Jan. 1, 1968. However, like their first entry, they handled all the designing, constructing and decorating of their float. Again, it proved to be too much work and Lions vowed to never enter the parade again, according to Casteel.
But in 1992, Lions decided to accept the invitation under the guidance of then International President Donald E. Baker to participate in the parade. The third time was the charm.
Lions Float Inc., a non-profit corporation, was formed in 1994 to direct the preparation and funding of the Lions float in the parade. It’s a year-round activity involving the designing, fundraising and coordinating of volunteer decoration of the float in December. To raise these funds, Lions Float, Inc. sells a variety of commemorative items such as pins, shirts, license-plate frames, sun shades, antenna balls and hats and offers fellowships for donations honoring PIP Banker and others.
Lions Clubs International’s float in the 125th Annual Tournament of Roses Parade marks a special occasion. It’s the first time Lions have chosen a specific service project as the inspiration behind the float design.
By now many have read and shared the unique story of Matteo’s Dream, a playground in Concord, Calif., the Lions built for a little boy who was blind and suffered from cerebral palsy. It was his parents dream to have a playground where their son, who was bound to a wheelchair, could play outside with other children. Lions answered the call and made their dream come true.
Lions Clubs International is showing support by hosting our first-ever social media contest on Facebook and Instagram. We’re giving several chances to win an official Matteo’s Dream Rose Parade commemorative pin. You can read more details about the contest and the official rules here.
Additionally, we are asking Lions everywhere to continue sharing the YouTube video in an effort to spread the word about the unique story behind the float design.
The 125th Annual Tournament of Rose Parade is just days away! Here are some fun facts to know for the parade:
We’re excited to start 2014 smelling like roses – literally.
On January 1, people all over the world will tune into watch the 125th Annual Tournament of Rose Parade.
Last year, over 84 million people tuned in to watch the beautiful floral works of art make their way down Colorado Blvd. in Pasadena, Calif., according to the Tournament of Roses website.
Lions Clubs International is proud of the float entry for this year’s parade because it’s the first time a float will represent a service project. Matteo’s Dream, a project from Concord, Calif. was selected as the inspiration for Lions’ float design.
It’s not only a perfect fit for the parade’s theme “Dreams Come True,” but it also shows what we as Lions do every day – make dreams come true in every community.
We hope that every Lion around the world has a chance to see our float, which is currently being decorated with flowers. Click here to see Lions decorating the float.
The new year is fast approaching and with it, all-new Membership Webinars that provide the opportunity for Lions to learn about and discuss various membership topics. Connect with Lions around the world, and expand your reach! Below are a list of the monthly webinars coming up in 2014. Register today!
The mad rush to decorate Lions Clubs International float in the 125th Annual Rose Parade is well underway in Pasadena, Calif.
“Between Dec. 26 -30 is when the 17-hour shifts begin,” said Phoenix Decorating Company spokesperson Brian Dancel.
The Phoenix Decorating Company has been working with Lions Clubs International for several years now. They help turn float designs on paper into the beautiful floral works of art that drive down Colorado Blvd. on New Year’s Day.
This year, Lions Clubs International selected Matteo’s Dream, a project from Concord, Calif., as the inspiration for their float design.
Approximately 5,000 roses and 1,800 gerberas will be used to decorate the 35-foot-long float, according to Dancel.
Rose Parade rules require every square inch of float surface be covered with “flowers or other natural botanical materials,” according to an article from HGTV.
Most decorations on the float are what Dancel calls “Live Florals” because they can deteriorate very quickly and lose color. This is why volunteers work long hours a few days before the parade in order to apply all the flowers and preserve the live florals.
The other decorations are called “dry decorations.” They are applied weeks prior to the event because they are non-perishable and last longer.
Teams of Lions and volunteers will work around the clock leading up to the parade in two shifts. The first shift goes from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., while the second shift runs from 3:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.
Dancel estimates that volunteers put in around 9000 man hours leading up to the float judging, which will take place on Dec. 31.
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