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Float honors Watts Counseling and Learning Center

PASADENA — In keeping with the 2017 Tournament of Roses theme, “Echoes of Success,” Kaiser Permanente chose to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Watts Counseling and Learning Center with a float celebrating “50 Years of Helping People Grow.”

Since 1967, Kaiser Permanente has provided counseling, outreach and educational services to the residents of Watts and the surrounding community through the Watts Counseling and Learning Center.

The float features the street signs on 103rd Street and Success Avenue, the site of the center.

The Watts Towers also were prominently featured on the float. The iconic structures consist of nine major sculptures constructed from steel and mortar then adorned with discarded glass, bottles, broken dishes, rocks, sea shells, ceramics, pottery and tile.

They were built by Simon Rodia, an Italian-American artist who worked alone for 33 years to erect the towers without the benefit of machines, welding equipment, scaffolding or schematics.

The float also depicted healthy eating, active living activities such as enjoying a farmers market, riding bikes, and playing basketball, which are all promoted by Kaiser Permanente at the center.

Float riders included current and former Watts Counseling and Learning Center clients.

The float was part of the spectacle that makes the Rose Parade a special event.

Hundreds of thousands of fans braved occasional light pre-dawn rain, and reveled in the relatively warm 50-degree air. The 5 1/2-mile parade route was the subject of extra security, including water-filled obstacles at 52 intersections designed to thwart any high-speed vehicle attacks.

The parade began with the customary Air Force B-2 Stealth bomber flyover. The marching bands, horse units and floats were positioned on Orange Grove Boulevard, ready to make the tight turn east at Colorado Boulevard as the parade kicked off at 8 a.m.

A float with waterfalls, a princess with fiery hands and a working volcano, dedicated to “The Spirit of Hawaii,” won one of the top awards at the 2017 Rose Parade. The Sweepstakes Award went to Dole Packaged Foods, for its homage to Hawaii.

The float had one of the largest portable waterfalls to ever make its way through Pasadena.

And the longest, heaviest float to ever lumber down Colorado Boulevard made the tight turn at Orange Grove Boulevard without incident. The Lucy Pet float featured a block-long tank and surfing dogs, and the crowd roared as the first bulldog “hung 20” down the boulevard, as one anchor put it.

“Lucy Pet’s Gnarly Crankin’ K-9 Wave Maker” won the Extraordinaire Trophy, and set records with its 126-foot length and 148,000 pounds worth of water, flowers and wet dogs.

The Downey Rose Float Association’s float, “The Gold Rush,” was honored with the Governor’s Award for the best depiction of life in California.

The humorous “Backyard Rocketeer” float made by volunteers in La Canada-Flintridge won the Bob Hope Humor Award. And the Sierra Madre Rose Float Association’s “The Cat’s Away” won the Mayor’s Trophy for best city entry.

Other winners announced just before the parade’s start included a group of surfing dogs on the Lucy Pet float, winner of the Extraordinaire Float.

A trio of Olympic gold medalists — Allyson Felix, Greg Louganis and Janet Evans — served as grand marshals of the parade.

The Los Angeles Unified School District's All District High School Honor Band marches along Colorado Boulevard Jan. 2 in the 128th annual Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade. This is the 45th consecutive year the band has participated in the parade. (Courtesy photo)
The Los Angeles Unified School District’s All District High School Honor Band marches along Colorado Boulevard Jan. 2 in the 128th annual Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade. This is the 45th consecutive year the band has participated in the parade. (Courtesy photo)

Temple City High School senior Victoria Cecilia Castellanos, 17, reigned as this year’s Rose Queen, aboard a special float with the six princesses on the Royal Court. They are Maya Khan, 18, Arcadia High School; Natalie Petrosian, 17, La Canada High School; Audrey Cameron, 17, Blair High School; Autumn Lundy, 17, Polytechnic School; Lauren Powers, 17, Arcadia High School; and Shannon Larsuel, 17, Mayfield Senior School.

Riding on a float sponsored by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation were three survivors of the mass shooting inside the Pulse nightclub in Orlando that left 49 people dead and 53 wounded. The float, titled “To Honor and Remember Orlando,” was a tribute to those who were killed in the June 12 shooting.

The float featured a giant dove soaring over a field of 49 white stars representing each of the victims of the shooting, and a colorful rainbow representing “the diversity of the LGBT community” and symbolizing “the humanity of all victims killed or injured.”

The float also featured a “Tree of Life” with condolence notes left on a communal board in Orlando. During the parade, 49 white doves were released from the float, twice.

The three survivors were Victor Baez Febo, Isaiah Henderson and Jahqui Sevilla, whose boyfriend was killed in the attack on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

The parade again featured a float sponsored by the ABC series “The Bachelor,” along with one sponsored by the National Hockey League and the traditional Donate Life float dedicated to organ donors and recipients.

Marching bands from across the country marched, along with the Gifusho Green Band from Gifu, Japan. The Los Angeles Unified School District’s All District High School Honor Band also made its annual appearance in the procession.