Not your garden variety celebration: CMC to enter float in the 2023 Rose Parade for diamond anniversary

A float in the Rose Parade features three singers in red dresses with a banner reading, 'Echoes of Success'
CMC’s float in the Rose Parade celebrates its history and looks towards the future. (Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons)

To celebrate 75 years since it took root, Claremont McKenna College rose to a sweet-smelling architectural challenge. CMC will participate in the 2023 Rose Parade, an annual New Years tradition in Pasadena, with a custom-made float celebrating the “stories and traditions” of CMC, the college announced Nov. 9. 

The float, now under production at an Irwindale warehouse, will be 55 feet long and 25 feet tall. This will be the first time a member of the Claremont Colleges participates in the Rose Parade. 

Featuring flower-covered floats, marching bands and equestrian units, the Rose Parade is held every year along Colorado Boulevard before the Rose Bowl, a major college football game.

In 1890, the parade began to celebrate the abundance of flowers in Southern California during the middle of the winter. Entrants to the parade would decorate their carriages with hundreds of flowers. The parade has blossomed since, now using state-of-the-art float technology. 

The theme of the Jan. 2 parade is “Turning the Corner,” and CMC’s float will contain symbols of the college and Claremont. 

“We decided to highlight the iconic Kravis Center, Roberts Pavilion and transformative Robert Day Sciences Center, our Public Art Program, flora rooted in Southern California and, of course, Mt. Baldy,” Evan Rutter CM ’06, assistant vice president for alumni and parent engagement, told TSL. 

The idea for the float stems from the 75th anniversary planning committee, formed during the 2021-2022 academic year, Rutter said. While the committee planned to apply for the Rose Parade in 2021, the parade was postponed due to the pandemic. 

“The Board of Trustees and CMC’s President, Hiram Chodosh, and the Committee, however, were steadfast that the float and related activities would be 100 percent funded from philanthropic dollars and support student scholarships at CMC,” Rutter said. 

In alignment with this goal, CMC launched an Adopt a Roseprogram for contributions toward student scholarships. 

After its application was accepted, CMC began working with Fiesta Parade Floats — the most awarded float builder in Rose Parade history — to design and build the float. 

“Through this initiative, we hope to engage thousands of alumni, parents, students, faculty and staff in a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to participate in the myriad activities throughout December and early January, and join us as we look to the College’s next 25 years and beyond,” Rutter said. 

The 2023 parade will feature an additional Claremont connection. Gabby Giffords SC ’93, a former Democratic Congresswoman from Arizona, will be the grand marshall for the 2023 parade. Giffords gave the commencement address at Scripps College in 2009, and former president Barack Obama called her “a hero” while meeting with Scripps alumni in 2015.

Giffords was shot in the head while meeting with constituents in 2011, causing her to suffer a major brain injury. She is now a gun safety advocate and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom earlier this year.

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