It’s not just floats that glide down Colorado Boulevard during the annual Rose Parade. There’s also an incredible group of vintage and contemporary cars – and for the last 5 years, all were adorned in California Grown flowers.

Kieth White leads the California Grown design effort for FTD and the Tournament of Roses Parade vehicles.

The floral designs for the VIP parade vehicles are the handiwork of Keith White, AIFD, lead designer for FTD, and breathtaking doesn’t begin to describe them.

Since 2006, White has arrived in Pasadena on Christmas Day; he begins working on the cars on Dec. 26, using “trade secrets” to be sure the vintage cars are protected as the flowers and foliage are added. Each car takes a full day to adorn, and this year there were two Honda pace cars and five vintage cars, each receiving unique floral designs.

Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at this year’s FTD California Grown car fleet:

Pace cars – Honda’s pace cars, which lead off the parade and keep it correctly timed, featured red roses, anthurium and tea leaves which reflected the Rose Parade logo and were a nod to the contemporary style of the cars.

Photo by Linda Blue Photography

Grand Marshal’s car – White wanted to incorporate the parade’s “Making A Difference” theme for this vehicle and recognize the work of Grand Marshal Gary Sinise by creating a show-stopping design. The car, a 1919 Dodge, was featured in the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life.” White used deep maroons, reds and purples – hues tied to the Hanami trend introduced in the 2018-19 American Floral Trends Forecast. Yellow ribbons made from flowers were added in a nod to Sinise’s work with veteran’s groups and in support of U.S. troops.

Photo by Linda Blue Photography

Hall of Fame inductees cars – The two cars for the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame inductees called for a more masculine design. White went with shades of orange to create the vibrant design. He incorporated protea and banksia, two flower varieties that are booming in popularity.

Photo by Linda Blue Photography

President’s car – For this vehicle, an ivory and gold Packard, White chose a white, green and brown palette, using heavy doses of textural white flowers to create impact. He added foliage garlands that wrapped around the convertible cover and down the front fenders to the bumper. Making it particularly unique were the inclusion of defoliated big star eucalyptus and assorted succulents.

Mayor of Pasadena – Large fruit baskets, fruit and flowers outfitted the mayor’s car, a classic Jitney Bus. This “very California” design featured kale, lemons, persimmons, kumquats and roses. The car’s owner, in tears when he saw it complete, shared that the bus was in fact a former produce truck.

“There’s a consumer-driven curiosity behind what’s presented on these cars, and that’s what I enjoy doing,” White explains. “You always want to give them something other than what they’ve seen.”

Mission accomplished – with California Grown Flowers!


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