Written by Colin Powers
The traditional Tournament of Roses Parade will return after a one-year hiatus on New Year’s Day and so will a Swift Current florist who is part of a team working on one of the floats.
Poppy Parsons, an AIFD, CFD and CAFA certified florist and the owner of Smart Flowers, is also a float decorator with Fiesta Floats and is in Pasadena, California this week working on one of the dozens of floats that will be seen by millions around the world in this year’s parade.
“Being a florist and opening up opportunities to try and do different things and learn and grow is something I’ve always wanted to do in my career, and the Rose Parade just completely showcases to North America the beauty and love of flowers,” Parsons said. “There’s never been anybody from Saskatchewan work for them before, so I’m the first from Saskatchewan. There’s normally a couple of Canadians on our team, but this year we have a really select group that has been flown in, so I’m the only Canadian working at Fiesta Floats this year. When they called me to be on the team this year, I was just proud... it’s just such an honour to be entrusted with this massive undertaking.”
Parsons’ team is working on Donate Life’s float called “Courage to Hope”, which is scheduled in the 20th position for this year’s parade. Donate Life is a charity that encourages Americans to consider becoming organ, tissue, and blood donors.
"You can look for a beautifully decorated float with tons of pinks and purples and red flowers of all different varieties, but the theme of the float is the courage shown by donor families and living donors and awaiting recipients and it's being symbolized by the winged lion of Piazza from San Marco, Venice, Italy,” she said, adding she also worked on the Donate Life float in the last Rose Parade in 2020.
“There’s many that have worked on floral floats for 20, 25 years and this group of people is like family,” Parsons added. “There’s lots of repeat volunteers that spend countless hours, they’re pushing over 10,000 hours of volunteer work on the floats this year, and they remember us, so it’s like a little reunion. They invite us to come and join with them and welcome us with open arms. Decorating on the float and being there when recipients and donor families are there and they share their stories, we just feel like we’re part of this incredible movement encouraging people to donate and give life through organ, tissue, eye, and blood donations across America. To be hearing those stories, talking with survivors, or talking with family members when their loved ones passed, they gave life to others, it’s really an emotional week but so rewarding.
“It’s really an important message for us as well,” she added. “It’s a really easy thing to do to just check on your license just to say that I want to give life if something happens to me and talk to your family about it. It’s really important.”
The 133rd Rose Parade will begin at 10:00am Saskatchewan time on Saturday morning and will air nationally in the United States on NBC and ABC. There is also a commercial-free broadcast of the parade on KTLA-TV in Los Angeles, which is available on most cable packages in Swift Current.