BATON ROUGE, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – For the first time in its 133 year history, the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, Ca. is adding a little bit of Louisiana flavor.

Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser’s office announced this week that the spirit of the Bayou State will be represented as one of the parade’s floral masterpieces. Several marching bands from around the state have participated in previous years but this will be the first time that the state’s unique culture will be showcased before the parade’s global audience as a float.

Fiesta Parade Floats will use 35,000 roses, more than 18,000 purple irises, real magnolia leaves, and thousands of daisies and carnations to bring Louisiana’s unique culture to life. Parade viewers can expect to see moss-draped cypress trees, a Cajun fisherman in a pirogue, sculptured magnolias, pelicans, crawfish crabs, and powdered sugar covered beignets. The presentation even includes an iconic wrought-iron balcony and French Quarter-style lampposts.

“While they designed and built the float, we gave input to make sure it had Louisiana flavor,” said Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser. “For instance, instead of street signs in the French Quarter, we wanted all areas of the state represented. On this float, the street signs are Baton Rouge, Houma, and Shreveport. Also, we added spots for the Louisiana ambassadors who would be riding.”

A Louisiana-themed float would not be complete without a musical element. American Idol winner and Louisiana music ambassador Laine Hardy and the Hot 8 Brass Band will have a mid-parade performance while riding along the route.

“As we open our doors to the world and compete with tourism destinations across the globe, it’s important to think outside the box,” Nungesser said of Louisiana Office of Tourism’s decision to participate in the parade. “So many families and friends gather to watch the Rose Parade and by putting our state on an international stage, we are welcoming millions of guests to our great state. The float is beautifully designed to remind viewers and potential visitors of our rich heritage, sensational cuisine, and rock-your-socks-off music. We want to feed everyone’s soul with a little Louisiana on New Year’s Day.”

This year’s theme for the Tournament of Roses Parade is “Dream. Believe. Achieve,” and in the spirit of that theme, the Louisiana Office of Tourism decided to celebrate a small delegation of Louisiana’s heroes to ride on the float, choosing Louisianans who selflessly served during massive storms and the Covid-19 crisis.  

“We were on a fast track to get riders who could make the trip in the short timeframe we had. So, we reached out to find a deputy of the year, teacher of the year and a hospital worker – one of thousands who slept in the hospital and risked their life during the pandemic and Hurricane Ida,” Nungesser said.

“The Tourism team was able to secure the first ones we were able to get confirmation that they could make the trip, be okay on the float that long, and had a story to tell. We had a deadline to get those names in and those spots secured.”  Nungesser added, “It gave us another idea. The Louisiana tourism float that will be in several parades around the state, will have additional heroes and ambassadors who will ride. For instance, in the New Iberia parade, they will get local heroes from the hospital to ride. So, we will use our float all over Louisiana and highlight all of the great things they are doing.”

Tourism in Louisiana has taken a hit with all that the state and nation have endured over the last couple of years but the Lieutenant Governor is hopeful about the future, and thinking outside the box by participating in the Rose Parade. They are expecting a big return with this and other efforts intended to draw visitors to the state for business and pleasure.

The Tournament of Roses Parade airs on New Year’s Day and will be watched by a global audience of nearly 40 million people. The event airs on several networks in the United States and will also be broadcast live in the Caribbean, Latin America, Armenia, and the Armed Forces Network.

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