Dodgers unveil plans for Rose float
Team to begin 50-year celebration on New Year's Day
PASADENA, Calif. -- It was a lovely day at the Tournament of Roses House, as the grandstands for the 119th Annual Rose Parade were already being erected nearby while Dodgers vice chairman and president Jamie McCourt helped unveil to the media the design for the organization's first float in this "tradition-rich New Year's Day spectacle."
"This will be a great kickoff," said McCourt, referring to the organization's 50th anniversary celebration of its move to Los Angeles. "The notion that fans around the world can watch our launch of, hopefully, 50 years in the future, what could be better?"
The float, entitled "Celebrating America's Favorite Pastime," was designed and is being built by Festival Artists Worldwide, whose float designer, Craig Bukowski, attended the news conference with his associates and parade officials.
"The float will be decorated with popcorn and peanuts and modeled after Dodger Stadium," McCourt said during her presentation. "The float features baseball legends representing many decades of Dodger history. Dodger organist Nancy Bea Hefley will entertain the crowds by playing game-day favorites from atop the float, while fans cheer from bleachers for a 35-foot tall Dodger player coming out of a grand slam swing."
In the tradition of all Rose Parade entries, the Dodgers float will be made by hand with all natural materials. Decorations for the stadium backdrop include white mums, red carnations, blue ribbon irises and scissored blue stattice. The garden surfaces will be beds of gold and yellow roses with accents of white dendrobium and lavender and white cattleya orchids.
The iconic Dodgers scoreboard will include blended strawflower, gold mums, scissored stattice, dried seaweed and poppy seeds. The Dodgers player's uniform will be largely comprised of crushed coconut, scissored stattice and red carnation petals. The gold star accents will be detailed with popcorn kernels applied individually. Finally, floral displays of more than 1,500 bird of paradise stems, 600 orange anthuriums, as well as numerous hanging heliconia flowers will complete the Dodgers entry.
McCourt also listed the various Dodgers players and organization members, past and present, who will ride on the float that day. They include Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda; broadcasters Vin Scully and Jaime Jarrín; former Dodgers pitcher and current Spanish-language broadcaster Fernando Valenzuela; Carl Erskine, the former Brooklyn and Los Angeles pitcher who started and won the Dodgers' first home game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum against the San Francisco Giants; Dodgers legend Don Newcombe; 1974 National League MVP Steve Garvey; six-time Rawlings Gold Glove Award winner Wes Parker; current players Nomar Garciaparra and James Loney; 50-year employee and legendary "Peanut Guy" Roger Owens, the most durable Dodgers "pitcher" in team history who began his storied vending career at the Coliseum; Billy DeLury, the 58-year Dodgers employee whose career has spanned from Ebbets Field to the Coliseum to Dodger Stadium; Kathy Robinson Young, niece of Jackie Robinson, a Pasadena resident; and college basketball legend Ann Meyers Drysdale, widow of Hall of Fame Dodgers pitcher Don Drysdale.
Some of the participants were at the news conference and are looking forward to the parade.
"To start out the 50th anniversary celebration with the Rose Bowl parade, that's the daddy of them all," said Lasorda. "I've been in a lot of parades, but this one is No. 1 in this country, and to have our float in there is going to be really special."
"It's quite an honor, to be part of something that's such a national treasure as the Rose Bowl Parade and game and everything that comes with it," Garvey said. "To represent the Dodgers, which is another national treasure -- to be on New Year's Day, on a float, is special, once in a lifetime."
"I always watch the parade on television," Newcombe said. "To hear the Dodgers are going to have a float and be the first baseball organization to have a float in the parade and it to be the Dodger float, made it more meaningful to me to be a part of that."
Newcombe also pointed out that Pasadena was the hometown of his friend and teammate Jackie Robinson, and for the Dodgers to have a float in this parade had deep significance.
"This is where Jackie is from," said Newcombe. "He went to school here, he set all kinds of high school sports records here and then went on to UCLA. It brings back lots of memories to remember Jackie and the chance he gave me to be a baseball player with the Dodgers."
"This is a great honor for me to represent my family, the Dodgers, and I have to include the ushers, because I was an usher with the Dodgers from 1981-88," said Robinson Young. "I am so excited. This is a historic time for myself and everyone involved."
The people putting on the parade are also proud to have the Dodgers on board.
"The Dodgers is a unique organization," said Tournament of Roses Association president CL Keedy. "They have fans in L.A. and still in New York, and I think that the fact that it's kind of bi-coastal with fans makes it that much more attractive to us."
Dodgers fans still have a chance to ride on the float on New Year's Day by entering The Dodgers Rose Parade Sweepstakes. The sweepstakes ends Dec. 1. The team will announce the winning fans on Dec. 12.
Ben Platt is a national correspondent for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.