American Armenian Rose Float Association Presented

“Armenian Roots” in the 129th Tournament of Roses Parade

The American Armenian Rose Float Association (AARFA) took part for the fourth time in a row in the 129th Pasadena Tournament of Roses, on January 1, 2018 with “Armenian Roots” winning the Judges Trophy for the most outstanding float design and dramatic impact award. Carrying the theme “Armenian Roots,” the Armenian rose float was dedicated to Armenian mothers, daughters, sisters, and grandmothers, as individuals who are the foundation of acts of kindness that enrich the lives of others; who are a source of inspiration, hope, joy, and optimism; and whose unconditional love contributes to the greatness of their communities and nation.

The theme of the Armenian rose float echoes the general theme of the 129th Pasadena Tournament of Roses, which “Making a Difference.” As described by Lance Tibbet, president of the 2017-2018 Tournament of Roses, “ The ‘Making a Difference’ theme is a way to honor and celebrate all of the people in our communities who, quietly and without desire for reward or recognition, act in selfless, generous, and kind ways to aid or benefit others.”

The design of Armenian Roots was conceived by AARFA Board member Johnny Kanounji. The centerpiece consists of the bust of a young woman dressed in traditional Armenian garments and headgear and tending a young pomegranate tree. The elements in the back and front of the imposing centerpiece comprise a colorful pastiche of Armenian motifs, including Armenian carpets and pomegranates. While some of the patterns of the carpets are nods to ancient Armenian architecture and heraldry, their background colors are also rich in symbology. The green, for instance, symbolizes hope, renewal, life, and spring; and red symbolizes beauty, wealth, courage, joy, and faith.

The first Armenian rose float, which carried the theme “Cradle of Civilization,” went on to earn the Pasadena Tournament of Roses’ prestigious President’s Award for “most effective floral use and presentation.”   “On New Year’s Day, 2015, as the first Armenian rose float in history rolled down Colorado Boulevard, it promoted Armenian culture and identity in Los Angeles and across the world,” AARFA President Stepan Partamian said as he addressed the guests. 

The second Armenian rose float road on January 1, 2016, the theme, “Find your Adventure,” called “Discover Armenia” encompassed major Armenian landmarks as well as references to Armenian history — including the Sardarapat and Tsitsernakaberd memorials, the Tatev Monastery, Artsakh’s “We Are Our Mountains” monument, the Ughtasar Petroglyphs, the khachkar cemetery of Old Jugha, and the Urartian Sphinx, among others. Both the first and the newest Armenian rose floats were designed by AARFA Board member Johnny Kanounji, depicting the beauty and millennia-old culture of Armenia and Artsakh, the Armenian rose float will also help promote tourism in our homeland.

On January 2, 2017, AARFA showcased “Echoes of Success” the third Armenian rose float winning the Past President’s Trophy for Best Design and Best use of Floral and Non-Floral Design, platforming the American Armenian diaspora success story. It  was an honor to share Armenia as a success story in the world during the 2017 Rose Parade. It was more of an honor to showcase Armenian Woman in our community with  Armenian Roots on January 1, 2018 who have made a difference through acts of kindness and unconditional love.  These floats belong to every Armenian in the United States and around the world. One hundred years ago, the Tournament of Roses chose Mr. Pashgian, an American Armenian, as the Grand Marshall, and now, the American Armenian community again was represented with a float for the fourth year in a row.

On New Year’s Day, 2018, the Pasadena Tournament of Roses was seen by about 700,000 spectators in Pasadena and a global audience in 245 countries and territories not to mention its social media presence.

As in previous years, some 600 community volunteers will work on the floral assembly of the 2018 Armenian rose float. Given the considerable cost of materials and construction of the float, the AARFA is appealing for generous grassroots community support.


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