My mother was a real fan, too. We would ooh, aah, and squeal over the spectacular floral displays and pageantry. Like most places, my hometown of Albany, Georgia had nothing to compare to it. The Rose Parade is unique, just like Pasadena.
A couple of years before I joined Pasadena Humane as president and CEO, my husband Pierce and I were watching the Rose Parade together at our home in Virginia.
It was a sparkling New Year’s Day in Pasadena. The palm trees glistened at “TV corner” where cameras pick up the start of the parade route, and the commentators remarked on the delightful weather.
I turned to Pierce and said, “I’ve never been to Pasadena. I’d like to go there someday.”
Amazingly, now I’ve not only lived in Pasadena since 2019, but I’m also going to ride on a float in the 2024 Rose Parade.
For the first time in 20 years, Pasadena Humane will have a float, sponsored by Hill’s Pet Nutrition. Thanks to Hill’s Food, Shelter & Love program, all the cats and dogs in the shelter eat deeply discounted Hill’s pet food.
So, it makes perfect sense that we would partner with Hill’s to celebrate the special bond between pets and people, while encouraging viewers to “Feed the Love” and adopt their next best friend.
My adopted dog Sueshi will ride on the float with me, along with other dogs, Pasadena Humane staff and volunteers, our Hill’s Pet Nutrition partners, and Drs. Vernard Hodges and Terrence Ferguson, stars of National Geographics “Critter Fixers: Country Vets.”
I expect the day to be filled with joy, laughter and, of course, music! This year’s parade theme — Celebrating a World of Music: The Universal Language — ties in nicely with our wish to promote the harmony between people and pets.
Inspired by this year’s theme, we created a songwriting competition with our friends and neighbors at the Los Angeles College of Music. Students and alumni musicians were given the chance to write an original song to accompany our float.
With many wonderful submissions, it was hard to choose a winner. We are incredibly fortunate to live in such an animal-loving community, as well as one full of talented musicians.
After the song was selected, Ella shared that her family has adopted pets throughout her whole life, and she has been an active volunteer and donor to various shelters and animal welfare organizations.
“Our pets are members of the family,” Ella said. “I knew I wanted to write a song that was upbeat and positive, and that would hopefully inspire people to sing along, and to get behind the cause of helping animals.”
The 20-year-old singer-songwriter will soon be hitting the recording studio thanks to the Los Angeles College of Music. The college is fully producing, recording and donating the track for our use in the parade.
Tune into the Rose Parade on January 1 to hear Ella’s song and watch our spectacular 55-foot “Feed the Love” float as it makes its way down Colorado Boulevard.
We hope to motivate viewers here on the parade route in Pasadena and those watching throughout the world to adopt, foster, volunteer or donate to their favorite shelter.
Dia DuVernet is president and CEO of Pasadena Humane.
This blog post originally appeared as a column in the Pasadena Star-News on November 3, 2023.