Rose Parade 2022: Flowers from here, there, and everywhere

After a one-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the 133rd Tournament of Roses Parade returns to the streets of Pasadena on New Year’s Day. With the 2022 theme 'Dream. Believe. Achieve.', all eyes will be on the hundreds of thousands of fresh blooms, seeds, grasses, and other natural materials that are used to make the float designers’ visions come to life.

As 40 of these larger-than-life floats make their way down Colorado Boulevard, it begs the question — where, exactly, do all those flowers come from? Historically an event that celebrated California-grown foliage, the Rose Parade now features plenty of international flair, including carnations from Colombia, orchids from Thailand, proteas from Africa, and roses from Ecuador.

Tim Estes, president of Fiesta Parade Floats, has worked the last 56 Rose Parades, starting as a float decorator when he was just 8 years old. Established in 1988, the award-winning parade float design company has The UPS Store and the City of Torrance on its list of clients. Estes recalls that 40-50 years ago, 85-90 percent of the floral product used on Rose Parade floats came from California. Now, he estimates it might be closer to 10 percent.

While California’s constant drought status may come to mind as the culprit behind the decline in the Golden State’s floral contribution, the answer is actually more global in nature. With the ability to provide lower labor costs, Colombia, Ecuador, and other South American countries are able to grow float design go-to's such as carnations, chrysanthemums, and the parade’s namesake roses at a much lower cost than in the United States. Additionally, those countries can produce blooms that are larger and more uniform in size and color. As float designs over the years have become bigger and more complicated, consistency has become key.

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