What We’ll Be Looking For: Louisiana’s First Rose Parade Entry

Published on Dec 27, 2021

The state of Louisiana is joining the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena for the first time in the parade’s 133-year history, Louisiana Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser announced last week.

In the past, several marching bands from around the state have participated in the Rose Parade but this will be the first time that the Bayou State’s unique culture will be showcased before the parade’s global audience as a float, the announcement said.

“As we open our doors to the world and compete with tourism destinations across the globe, it’s important to think outside the box,” Nungesser said. “So many families and friends gather to watch the Rose Parade and by putting our state on an international stage, we are welcoming millions of guests to our great state.”

The float, which will depict moss-draped cypress trees, a Cajun fisherman in a pirogue, sculptured magnolias, pelicans, crawfish, crabs, and powdered sugar covered beignets, is designed to remind viewers and potential visitors of the state’s rich heritage, its sensational cuisine, and rock-your-socks-off music, Nungesser added. A primary thrust of the Louisiana Tourism Office is to promote the “Feed Your Soul” concept and market the state as a major travel destination.

“We want to feed everyone’s soul with a little Louisiana on New Year’s Day,” he said.

The float will also highlight an iconic wrought-iron balcony and French Quarter-style lampposts. American Idol winner and Louisiana music ambassador Laine Hardy and the Hot 8 Brass Band will perform mid-parade on a stage in front of the Louisiana tourism logo that says “Feed Your Soul.”

The state has selected a teacher of the year, a volunteer, and a sheriff’s deputy among eight people who will be riding on the state’s first-ever float in the Rose Parade.

“It’s such an honor to have each one of these ambassadors, who represent all Louisianans, ride the Louisiana Tourism ‘Feed Your Soul’ float,” Nungesser said. “For instance, the teacher represents all Louisiana teachers and the volunteer represents all Louisiana volunteers. We are proud of and grateful for each and every one of them.”

The list of riders provided by the Louisiana Tourism Office include Ashini Modi, 17, who started a 1,500-book library for underprivileged youth at the Providence House shelter in Shreveport; United Cajun Navy Founder and President Todd Terrell, who represents all Louisiana volunteers who helped rescue tens of thousands of victims of Hurricane Laura in 2020 and Hurricane Ida in 2021; Sheriff’s Deputy Dylan Crawford of St. Tammany Parish, the recipient of the Louisiana Sheriff’s Association 2021 Deputy Valor Award for his heroic efforts in rescuing three people from drowning; Dr. Brian Parker of Thibodaux Regional Medical Center, representing Louisiana’s medical professionals who cared for patients throughout the pandemic and during natural disasters; Kara Bailey Lee, Teacher of the Year at Jefferson Parish who represents educators in Louisiana; Alyssa Carson, an aspiring astronaut who has attended multiple space camps and is training with hopes of being selected for a future spaceflight to Mars; and Julia Claire Williams, Miss Louisiana 2021, and Tanya Crowe, Miss Louisiana USA 2021, who are riding as role models for young women everywhere to achieve their dreams from education to public service.

“When I pitched the idea to have a Louisiana Tourism float in the Rose Parade, I told parade officials that everyone went through the pandemic, but Louisiana was the only state that was hit hard by multiple storms including two major hurricanes in less than two years,” Nungesser said. “When we explain to people who aren’t familiar with what we’ve been through and they realize the devastation we’ve faced, they ask me, ‘Is everyone this passionate about Louisiana?’ Of course, I say ‘yes.’”

The Rose Parade, broadcast live to tens of millions of viewers around the world, was cancelled in January due to the coronavirus pandemic, and replaced by a two-hour TV special showing clips from previous parades, among other entertaining elements.

As of Wednesday, the Tournament of Roses Association said a total of 43 floats will be joining 20 marching bands, 18 equestrian units, and dignitaries – including Grand Marshal LeVar Burton – down the historical five-and-a-half-mile route on New Year’s Day 2022.


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