Home  |  About Us  |  Rose Bowl Parade


Rotary's 2014 entry.  Driving the Train is RI President Ron Burton, and in the lab coats are Peter Salk, son of Jonas Salk who developed the first polio vaccine, and Debbe Sabin, daughter of Sylvia and Albert Sabin who developed the oral vaccine.



While watching the 1979 Pasadena Rose Parade on Television, Jack Gilbert, who was President of the Wilshire Rotary Club, in Los Angeles, California, and subsequently chairman of the Rotary Rose Parade Float Committee, had an idea. Rotary would be celebrating its 75th Anniversary in 1980. Jack believed that by entering a float in the 1980 New Year's Day Rose Parade, Rotary could communicate its message, "Service Above Self" to millions of people worldwide.

Jack shared his vision with other Rotarians, who supported the idea. Seven Governors in Southern California agreed to underwrite the cost of the float and make up any shortfall not covered by Club contributions. Fortunately, the Clubs contributed $35,000 which covered the full cost of the original float.

This first Tournament of Roses experience lead to the formation of the Rotary Rose Parade Float Committee which now receives contributions each year from approximately 8 Rotary Districts and an additional 700 Individual Rotary Clubs to fund the float. The Committee has entered a float every year since 1980.


The Rose Parade is seen by an estimated U.S. audience of 39 million people and an estimated international audience of millions more in over 220 territories. The Pasadena Police Department estimates that approximately 700,000 spectators view the Rose Parade in person. Another 160,000 visit the Parade Float Decorating Sites and/or the Post Parade Float Viewing Area where the floats are on display for two days.



The float theme was "Engage Rotary, Change Lives", and featured a candy cane crossing leading onto a bridge of candy cane railroad tracks.  Atop of those tracks was the float's delicious centerpiece: a larger-than-life train made of sweets.

Rotary Club volunteers were the “Float Participants” on our 2014 float - some rode the whimsical candy train and several more walked alongside the float. The riders included Ron D. Burton, Rotary International President and Jetta, Deborah Sabin, the oldest daughter of Sylvia Tregillus Sabin and Albert Sabin, M.D. developer of the Oral Polio Vaccine and Peter L. Salk, MD, the oldest son of Jonas Salk who, together with his team at the University of Pittsburgh, developed the first successful polio vaccine, which was introduced in 1955.



The float theme was “All the Places We Go”, and featured a central world globe representing the community and global service contributed by Rotary’s international network of 1.2 million volunteers. As the globe spun and gears turned, lotus and cherry blossoms and giant origami “peace cranes” informed the millions of parade viewers around the world of Rotary’s commitment to peace.

Float riders were chosen as recognition of their outstanding humanitarian service. This year’s participants include Rotary International President Sakuji Tanaka; Rotary member Paul Geisel from Texas, whose late grand uncle Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss) authored Oh, the Places You’ll Go, which is the basis for this year’s overall parade theme; and retiring Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley.



The theme of the float was "Inching Towards the End of Polio" and it was the Winner of the Princess' Trophy for the most beautiful float under 35 feet

Rotary International’s 33rd consecutive entry in the Tournament of Roses Parade, “Inching Towards The End of Polio,” celebrated the work of Rotarians worldwide as they strive to eradicate the paralyzing and deadly disease. The 22 foot tall Inchworm featured a MD’s head mirror, stethoscope and medical journal emblazoned with the caduceus. The 35-foot long “inchworm” was nestled in a field of flowers with eight riders from Rotary balanced among the dueling purple butterflies.

Multiple floral arrangements featured white moraras, white, red and hot pink tulips, yellow billy buttons, yellow daffodils and white roses. Deck floral highlights included use of pink, hot pink, light lavender, dark lavender, red, yellow roses and gerberas. The bottom edge of the float was trimmed with white catts, roses, carnations and gypsophilia.



Theme:  "Building Communities, Bridging Continents".  This was also the 2010-2011 Rotary Internation theme and went hand in hand with the parade theme "Building Dreams, Friendships and Memories".  The float featured an octet of bears each distinctly dressed representing different geographic areas where Rotary is active.  The United States, England, Australia, Mexico, Canada, Korea, India and Africa..  A multitude of natural materials were used to create the various fur textures .  Various colors of chrysanthemum, palm fibers, grasses, barks, beans and much more.



Theme: "Service Above the Rest". Winner of the Tournament Volunteers' Trophy for best floral design of theme 35 feet or under 

The float included an oversized fuzzy teddy bear dressed in a doctor's white coat and wearing a reflector and a stethoscope to remind the world of Rotary's commitment to eradicating polio worldwide. the bear also held a bouquet of roses to represent the Rotary's commitment to service and care since its founding in 1905. The teddy bear was created with corn silk, palm fiber and cordom puffs, with facial highlights of everlasting powdered ride, farina and nori seaweed. The doctor's lab coat was made of finely ground white rice with coconut lapels and the stethoscope was constructed with silverleaf, everlasting and poppy seed.



The theme was "Make Dreams Real"

The theme was based on RI President D. K. Lee dream and deep desire to provide all the world's children with clean water, health care, education and happy and peaceful lives. The float design was based on Shakespeare's romantic comedy, A Midsummer Night's Dream, one of his most beloved and entertaining plays.  The float depicted a beautiful garden setting with three exquisitely decorated fairies.  Seven women representing the Southern California and Nevada district of Rotary International rode  on the float in celebration of the year 2009, which marked the 20th anniversary of women involved in Rotary in the United States.


The theme was "Sharing World Literacy Day".



The theme was "Lead the Way" and the float presented a 16 foot mother duck leading her four young ducklings through a garden.  Thousands of roses, carnations, iris, gerbera daises and gladiolas were used on the float.  Riders on the float were selected from Rotary Exchange Students visiting the United States.



The theme was "The Magic of Caring".  The float presented a garden setting with mom and pop bear playing doctor and nurse to their baby bear.  Naturally colored cotton was used to create the fur on this loving family of bears.  Oversized flowers and toy tops, decorated with orange lentils, raspberry seed, split pea, statice and yellow strawflower, surrounded the bears in the garden.  A large arbor, whose criss-cross appearance was created using a pattern of corn husks, completes the garden setting



The theme, "Family Tree - A Century of Service", and design were selected to recognize the service of the Rotary family throughout the world during the past 100 years as Rotary International celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2005 and begins its second century of service to the world community.  The 2005 Tournament of Roses Parade theme was Celebrate Family.

The float presented a large tree amidst an active park setting, representing Rotary’s extensive family tree. Bird houses and large butterflies ornament the tree, which was surrounded by a lush garden featuring two dogs at play. The setting was created using real grass sod, roses, carnations, mums, lilies and orchids, with Yellow Oncidium orchids in the tree. Orange fluff, which comes from the seed pod of the Bird of Paradise, comprised the orange fir on the wings of the monarch butterflies.



The float won the Princess' Trophy the for the "Most Beautiful Float Under 35 Feet".

The "Symphony of Service" theme depicted a garden stage where a string quintet of bears and rabbits are playing a concert.  The float used nearly 15,000 roses and thousands of other floral materials including carnations, iris, gerbera daises, strawflower, statice, crushed walnut shell, coconut, cranberry seed, onion seed sesame and sweet rive.  Gladiolas and orchids created the look of the water fountain and ornamental cabbage made up the floral ruffle encircling the deck of the float. 



The theme of the float was "The Sky's the Limit".  In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of flight, the Rotary float depicted the sandy beach where the Wright Brothers took their first flight.  At the rear of the float was a group of buildings that are similar to the working areas of the bothers.  Sesame seed was used to achieve the fabric covering of the wings of the plane.  The deck was plush with grasses, roses, iris, carnations, and gebera daises-used to achieve the look of the sand dunes and groupings of growth along the shoreline.  Orville Wright was a Rotarian in Dayton, Ohio.



The 2002 float theme was "Around the World Through Education".  It was a magical journey that started on a 17-foot-tall turtle crafted from hundreds of pounds of split pea, lentil seeds, green tomatoes, strawflowers, statice and citrus fruit.  The decking of the float was vibrantly adorned using thousands of roses, carnations, lilies, iris and gerbera daisies with small and medium sculpted flowers creating the flowering branches on the deck.



The 2001 float won the Volunteers Trophy for the "best floral design of Parade theme under 35 feet in length." 

Mark Twain’s story of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn is instantly recognizable by millions of people around the world. They were the recognizable element of the theme for the 2001 float, "Recognizing Tomorrow's Leaders".

If there had been a Rotary club in Hannibal, Missouri when Tom and Huck were having their adventures, those Rotarians would have been interested in these two young men. This float celebrated the many young people Rotary has channeled into roles of positive leadership through the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards program.

There were ten young people who have participated in the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards program, riding on the float. What a memorable experience for a RYLA student to participate in the RYLA leadership seminar, and ride a float in the Rose Parade.

All of this to get the message across that Rotary not only recognizes tomorrows leaders, but also develops their leadership skills and principles. Our Rotary float created awareness in the world regarding RYLA, one of the most effective programs in the world of Rotary.

Raul Rodriguez designed the float which was constructed by Charisma Floats and was decorated by hundreds of volunteers from Rotary, Rotaract, and Interact clubs.



The float won the Isabella Coleman Award for "Best presentation of color and color harmony through floral use."

"Readers are Winners" recognized Rotary's emphasis on the need for functional literacy since 1985. UNESCO has estimated that more than a fourth of the people in the world are illiterate and unable to read or write well enough to adequately support themselves. Rotary clubs are engaged in tutoring programs, work place literacy programs, public awareness campaigns, book drives, funding of adult literacy classes, and in improving primary education.

Renowned designer Raul Rodriguez used the fable of the tortoise and the hare to depict the studious tortoise winning the race with his basket of books while the laid back rabbit was listening to his walkman.

The thirty five foot float was constructed by Charisma Floats and was decorated by hundreds of volunteers from Rotary, Rotaract, and Interact clubs.



The 1999 float won the Volunteers Award for  best floral design of parade theme 35 feet and under.  "Service is Timeless" was the theme.  It was built by Charisma Floats;



The was about more than beautiful flowers and spectacular pageantry. It told the story of Rotarians through its theme "Bringing the World Together" by encouraging and fostering international understanding, goodwill and peace through the programs of the Foundation of Rotary International. 

This year's float celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the Ambassadorial Scholar program, the oldest and best-known program of the Rotary International Foundation. It is also the largest privately funded international scholarship program. The scholarship program distinguishes itself from others by its unique ambassadorial purpose, which is possible only through the personal involvement of Rotarians worldwide.

Program objectives include sending ambassadors of goodwill to improve international understanding; instilling a high degree of international understanding in all scholars within the context of the high ideals which Rotary embodies; imparting needed skills to scholars, especially those from developing countries; and educating scholars from developed countries in the unique problems and challenges faced by developing

countries. With attention to these objectives, which help set Foundation Scholarships apart from other, Rotarians succeed in creating "ambassadors of goodwill" to help further the mission of The Rotary Foundation.

The float was truly a marriage of the 1998 Rose Parade Theme of  "Hav'n Fun" with the 1997-98 Rotary International Theme of Show Rotary Cares.



The float titled "Caring for the World's Children" provided an opportunity to reveal the shining achievements of the PolioPlus campaign.  The float featured three medical officers on three different continents, each surrounded by children who have been immunized against polio and other childhood diseases.  Colorful flowers, animals, vegetation and monuments depicted the different cultures were immunization efforts have been carried out.



Float Theme: "Lending a Helping Hand"



Float Theme: "Building Universal Friendship"

Winner of the Fantasy Trophy



Float theme: "Believing in the Future"



Float Theme: "Performing for a Better World"



Rotary's float, titled "Time for Learning", with its sculptured floral cuckoo clock, baby birds in their nest, and youthful students. all symbolized the birth of learning and discovery.

In a riot of lavish floral display, the verdant garden scene exploded in a bust of color cascades of exotic blooms from all over the world, with 40,000 roses.



Float Theme:  :Ropin' 'N' Rompin'"



Float theme:  "The Peaceable Kingdom"



"Making Childhood Dreams Come True" was a cause for celebration.  the spectacular 24-foot storyteller and his magically live marionettes captured the hearts of children of all ages. The float told the world what Rotary does to make the dreams of peace, common to all children, closer to reality.  



The float theme was "Look Whoo's Talking" and it won the Princess Trophy



Float theme:  "Rotary Brings Hope"



Float theme:  "Turning Tears Into Laughter"



Float theme: " Youth: Bridge to Tomorrow"



The theme of the float was "Neighborhood Carpool"  exemplifying the Rotary motto, "Service Above Self", the seemingly overburdened dad takes it all with a patient smile as we see clamoring on his shell his own young turtle carrying a violin case, a little league team of frogs, a campfire bluebird mouse, a Brownie chipmunk, a Cub Scout duckling, and a ballerina bunny.



Float theme:  "Mankind is One"



Float theme:  "Peace Through World Understanding" 

Bridges of peace, understanding, join the continents of the world.  The final bridge supported by the Rotary emblem saluted the dedicated service of members throughout the world.  Nations' flags encircled hemispheres on a ribbon of Yellow Town Crier Roses.  Floral sculptured couples join hands in friendship.



Float theme: "Trails to Happiness"

A poignant celebration of the United Nations' International Year of the Handicapped, "Trails to Happiness" represents the humanitarian actions of Rotary International.  Practicing its motto, "Service Above Self", the organization-as depicted on the float-takes time to serve the blind, the handicapped and the disadvantaged by providing nature trails and a variety of other outdoor experiences for boys and girls throughout the world.  At the front, a Rotarian helps a little boy in a wheelchair, while up ahead a small girl on crutches watches.  At the rear, another Rotarian holds up a fish that a blind child has caught.  The entry consists of roses, pompon mums, calendulas, orchids, iris, carnations and marigolds.



The theme of Rotary's 75th Anniversary Float was "Love Makes the World Go Around" and it won the National Trophy.  "Anyone who makes it the age 75 deserves at least a few flowers on his or her birthday."  This year rotary got roses, thousands of them.

The rainbow colored float carried a revolving globe covered with white carnation petals, surrounded by a bouquet of Dutch Iris and silverleaf.  A musical staff with notes bordered the sides of the float, leading to the Rotary emblem, colored with swarms of pompoms and cornflowers.  The float's base was blanketed with 8,000 red roses.

The float was valued at over $40,000, but a price tag couldn't be placed on the favorable publicity attracted to Rotary International.  The 1980 float was funded by Rotary Clubs in the Western United States.



Float theme:  A Closer World Through Rotary"



Float theme:  "Service Above Self"

Tournament of Roses theme:  "Victory, Unity and Peace"




The theme of the Tournament of Roses was "The Americas" and the Rotary float was in Division V.  Because of the outbreak of World War II, the parade was not held that year.  



The theme of the Tournament of Roses was "Songs in Flowers"






Peter L. Salk, MD. is the oldest son of Jonas Salk who, together with his team at the University of Pittsburgh, developed the first successful polio vaccine, which was introduced in 1955.

Peter graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard University in 1965 and Alpha Omega Alpha from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1969. After two years of house staff training in internal medicine at the University Hospitals of Cleveland, he worked from 1972-1984 in his father’s laboratory at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California, conducting research on treatment approaches to cancer and autoimmune disease and on strategies for vaccine production.

Following some time spent on research related to improving agricultural productivity, he worked again with his father from 1991-1995 on a project to develop an inactivated vaccine for HIV infection, and subsequently worked on the introduction of AIDS treatment programs in Africa and Asia. He has also devoted attention to novel approaches to enhancing the prospects for world peace.

Peter is now President of the Jonas Salk Legacy Foundation, where he is participating in the effort to complete the eradication of polio and is engaged in organizing and making available the extensive collections of his father’s papers and historical materials, educating the public regarding his father’s life and work in preparation for the centenary of his father’s birth in 2014, and extending and applying his father’s vision to help address humanity’s ongoing challenges and opportunities.

Deborah Sabin, B.S.N., F.N.P., is the oldest daughter of Sylvia Tregillus Sabin and Albert Sabin, M.D. developer of the Oral Polio Vaccine. She was born and grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio. A graduate of Duke University School of Nursing and the University of Washington Family Nurse Practitioner program, she is now retired.

During Debbe’s 35 years in practice she primarily focused on outpatient adult chronic disease management including diabetes, asthma/allergy and chronic pain. She also provided episodic and chronic illness management for residents of the Oregon State Hospital. Debbe has been a Clinical Nursing Instructor at Yakima Valley Community College and she was an Adjunct Faculty member for the University of Washington MEDEX Physician Assistant Training Program at the Yakima campus. She frequently spoke to both provider and patients groups regarding disease management and patient empowerment. She has been a member of many professional organizations including Sigma Theta Tau, the Nursing Honor Society.

Debbe Sabin currently resides in Portland, Oregon. Though unable to work in recent years due to health issues of her own, she enjoys keeping her skills sharp helping friends and family navigate the health care system and coaching people to become good self-advocates. She looks forward to further collaboration with Peter Salk to achieve the dreams of their fathers to see the complete eradication of polio. 


Copyright 2015  Rotary Club of Charlotte
We would appreciate any suggestions or feedback.