It started with Joann Fuller, our Hill’s Pet Nutrition Rose Parade float sponsor, arriving at my home at 5:30 am.
Thanks to a special parking pass, my family drove us, along with my adopted dog Sueshi, to the Tournament of Roses House, where at 6 a.m. we learned to the fanfare of trumpets that our float won the Director Award.
The Director Award is given to the float with the most outstanding artistic design and use of floral and non-floral materials. Who can resist adorable cats and dogs made of beans, seeds, coconut, pampas grass, and numerous other natural materials?
Joann and I made our way to our float parked on Orange Grove Boulevard, where we met up with David Eads, CEO of the Tournament of Roses, and his pug Bodhi, adopted from Pasadena Humane 13 years ago. Bodhi was one of the five shelter-pet ambassador dogs to ride on our float.
For a few nail-biting moments, the engine on the float failed to start. A mechanic finally managed to get us on our way. As we rushed to catch up to the bagpipers and Highland dancers in front of us, we made a quick stop for a live interview with KTLA.
After this thrilling start, it was smooth sailing to “TV Corner,” where we were greeted with thousands of cheers and hundreds of cameras.
I have to say, I think if there were a People’s Choice award, we would have won that award, too. As we made the turn onto Colorado Boulevard, I saw a sea of smiling faces. The outpouring of love and support from the hundreds of thousands of people lining the five-and-a-half-mile parade route was heartwarming, to say the least.
I didn’t see a single unhappy person during the two-hour ride. And, when people spotted the dogs on our float, including Sueshi sitting on my lap, their faces beamed with pure joy. We, in turn, saw many pets in the crowd with their families enjoying the parade…mostly dogs and a few cats in carriers.
When we reached the end of the parade, my family picked up Sueshi and me and rushed to the Pasadena Humane VIP viewing party at the Pasadena Hotel and Pool on Colorado Blvd. Among the 50 guests viewing the parade from the balcony of the second floor Rose Parade Suite were Ella Beyer and her parents.
Ella is the Los Angeles College of Music (LACM) student who wrote the song “Feed the Love” that played on our float throughout the parade. She was thrilled that her name was mentioned by Al Roker on NBC News and hopeful that this experience will help the launch of her career as a singer-songwriter.
Thank you to our fabulous team of staff and volunteers at Pasadena Humane and our partners at Hill’s Pet Nutrition for making this magnificent start to the New Year possible!
If you would like to Feed the Love, please visit pasadenahumane.org to learn more about adopting or fostering a shelter pet.
Dia DuVernet is president and CEO of Pasadena Humane.
This blog post originally appeared as a column in the Pasadena Star-News on January 5, 2024.