By: Christine Soussa
Excitement and anticipation surround this year’s American-Armenian float which will be featured for the third time in the 128th Tournament of Roses 2017 parade on Monday, January 2nd. Themed “Echoes of Success,” to encourage stories around selfless contributions of individuals who improve our community, the floats and performers are sure to be amazing.
The Tournament of Roses website states, “success is measured by our own personal satisfaction in knowing that we achieved our utmost by doing our best when facing challenges.” The Armenian-American float absolutely embodies and beautifully represents this sentiment in both design and invited representatives.
Titled “Field of Dreams,” the float features three (3) children riding a majestic Artsakh stallion descending from the historic snow-capped Mt. Ararat. A spiritual symbol of faith for people around the world, Mt. Ararat is where Noah’s Arc came to rest. Surrounding the float are important Armenian symbols including a pomegranate tree, and the peacock to symbolize good fortune and fertility of Armenians worldwide. The children are wearing traditional Armenian garments to pay tribute to contributions in literature, music and science.
The float design is from a painting by internationally celebrated artist Sevada Grigoryan (Arm. Սևադա Գրիգորյան). The painting titled “Childhood Dreams” is a beautiful expression of the innocence of childhood, the magic of possibility and the realization that dreams large and small can come true for anyone, anywhere. All of his paintings are exceptional in detail, color and meaning.
Invited to ride the float this year are:
- Michael Aram and his children: Known for his outstanding artistry and innovative designs. His work elevates life’s everyday moments so their natural beauty shines through. Most recently Michael Aram was commissioned to design and make the symbolic Noah’s Ark sculpture that was gifted to Pope Francis during his historic visit to Armenia. The sculpture will be permanently installed at the Vatican. While many of have Michael Aram pieces throughout our homes, few know his profound and inspiring story. In the coming weeks AIWA-SF will be releasing an interview with Michael Aram. (www.michaelaram.com)
- Houry Gebeshian –Armenian-American gymnast stole our hearts during this 2016 Rio Olympic games. Her moves were so incredible that she made history twice, once as the first female gymnast to represent Armenia and second by having her signature move inducted into the gymnastic Code of Points, known as “The Gebeshian.” Houry’s story is incredible, against all odds she was her own coach and self-funded much of her trainings. During the 25th Anniversary celebration of AIWA International, Houry was given the “Leadership in Fortitude” award.
- Dr. Sarkis Mazmanian – Renowned research professor of Developmental Biology and Genetics; Microbiology and Immunology at Caltech (https://www.bbe.caltech.edu/content/sarkis-mazmanian)
- Ralph Winter – Famous Producer, Director and Actor known for producing X-Men 2 (2003) and The Promise (2016) – a much anticipated film with a release date of April 29, 2017.
- Rostom Baghdassarian with granddaughter Kaitlyn Baghdassarian – Founded in 1992, Karoun Cheeses is a family-run business highlighting the fulfillment of the American dream (www.karouncheese.com).
- Arturo Azinian – Popular and beloved cobbler to the stars, Arturo began studying the art of shoemaking in Buenos Aires in 1939. (http://arturosshoefixx.com/)
- Claudette Stefanian – Digital Video News Anchor / Reporter at iHeartRadio.
More than 698,899 flowers cover the float measuring 50 feet long, 18 feet wide and 24 feet high. To honor the “never on Sunday” tradition, this year the Tournament of Roses Parade will be on Monday, January 2. Volunteers are coming from everywhere to contribute to the float, we welcome you to participate! More information including volunteer participation and donation contributions can be found at http://www.aarfa.org/. We cannot wait to see the beautiful float in the Parade!