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Downey Rose Parade Float Wins Founders Award

“On the Wings of Hope” won the Founder’s Award for most outstanding float built and decorated by volunteers from a community or organization.

By Tammye McDuff

In 1890, Valley Hunt Club members, led by Charles Frederick Holder, sponsored the first Tournament of Roses. The abundance of flowers, even in the midst of winter, prompted the club to add a parade before the competition, where entrants would decorate carriages with hundreds of colorful blooms.

This year marks the 131stRose Parade and the 67thyear of participation for the Downey Rose Float Association [DRFA].

The rowdy and loveable crew from the DRFA transported parade onlookers to the perfect spot in Japan with ‘Wings of Hope’, winning the Founders Trophy Award for most outstanding float.

Wings of Hope was built and decorated by volunteers, residents and members of the organization. 

Origami cranes took flight decorated with sweet white rice and cranberry seed over a secret Japanese garden. Origami cranes are a symbol of hope and healing and it is believed that if you folded one thousand paper cranes, your wish will come true. The larger than life cherry blossom trees were created with Mallorca orchids with Miss Downey Viany Campa, riding the float with her royal court all dressed in kimonos. 

This year Eileen Garrido received the honor of representing the City of Downey. Garrido was born with a serious heart condition known as Tetralogy of Fallot. This complex heart condition causes the heart to provide insufficient oxygen to the body which literally can cause a patient to suffocate. At the age of five weeks Garrido underwent her first heart surgery; just a little over a year old Garrido underwent her second heart surgery to repair her heart and June 2014, Garrido had her third surgery to repair her pulmonary artery and valve. She is truly a miracle child. Her personal story of hope, faith, and inspiration ties into this year’s tournament theme of “The Power of Hope”.  Garrido was asked to write and perform an original song that embodied the theme of the Downey float, “On the Wings of Hope” which is based on the ancient Japanese legend of Origami Cranes. 

With this honor in hand, Garrido was referred to New York composer Richard Pearson Thomas by her CSUF music Professors. After sharing her story, Thomas wrote “The Song of The Cranes”. The song and orchestration were then sent to LA based music director Cesar Benitez who worked with Garrido to record the song using live musicians. This three month collaboration between NY and LA musicians resulted in the theme song for the 2020 Downey Rose Float which was played along the parade route for spectators to hear. 

Director Cesar Benitez with Eileen Garrido recording The Power of Hope

The city of Downey remains one of six floats that are designed, built, and decorated solely by volunteers. The float will be on display at the Embassy Suites Hilton beginning January 2nd.

  • Float says:

    Congrats to Downey, they have been involved in the parade since the late 60’s- early 70’s. Lot of good jobs in Downey, since they have so many medical centers. Housing element is very diversified too.