For the first time in 23 years, the Sweepstakes Trophy has a new home. Paradiso Parade Floats and designer Charles Meier garnered the coveted award for “Marco Polo: East Meets West,” the third Rose Parade entry for Singpoli. With a dragon spewing real fire and carrying a smoking purple pearl, the float was a perfect embodiment of “Find Your Adventure,” the theme for the 127th Rose Parade, and Singpoli’s commitment to bridging cultures with trans-Pacific development and investment.
Fiery colors were picked up in the flowering of the float, with brilliant orange, red and pink roses. More than 85 percent of the float was covered with fresh flowers, which made this an unusual entry indeed. In addition to more than 150,000 blossoms, the float employed fresh orange, grapefruit and tangerine halves and rinds to create the tough hide on the legs, feet and body, which can be seen in the photos below.
As with previous Singpoli floats, linked in the “Suggested Articles” at the end of this piece, Meier created focal point with a towering mythical figure that is present in both eastern and western cultures. In 2014, it was Tianma/Pegasus; in 2015, the firebird/phoenix. The 2016 dragon combined elements of the benevolent Oriental dragon with the frightening, fire breathing Occidental creature. Marco Polo stood on a moon bridge beneath the Venetian flag and bursts of flame.
The theme of the 127th Rose Parade and 102nd Rose Bowl Game on Jan. 1, 2016 was “Find Your Adventure.” If you have a question or would like a reply to your comment, please post on Facebook at All Things Rose Parade or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Breathing fire on Colorado Boulevard
Marco Polo found his adventure in the Far East, but he likely didn’t encounter a real fire-breathing dragon. Finding adventure in the Rose Parade is a different story. On the 2016 Singpoli float, costumed actors portrayed Polo and his traveling companion standing below a flaming dragon that rose 26 feet into the air. Given that it was 32 degrees when the parade started, they might have appreciated the warmth.
Chinese dragons are usually portrayed holding or near a pearl, as this story about a magic pearl and a dragon illustrates. The purple pearl on the Singpoli float streamed smoke for dramatic effect. The stylized clouds were flowered in two shades of chrysanthemums and edged with white coconut. Flowering trees were created with giant oncidium orchids, Asiatic lilies and Italian ruscus above gardens of blue vanda orchids, Midori anthurium, liatris, Song of India, Cigar calathea, Green Ice calathea and Green Trick dianthus.
East meets West
Symbolic of the bridge Marco Polo built between East and West with The Travels of Marco Polo, the explorer stands on a Chinese moon bridge between the dragon and the flag of Venice with its winged lion. Chinese dragons are generally wingless and snakelike, while European dragons tend to be winged and more mammalian—in other words, more like the lion on the flag. The float deck was carpeted in thousands of roses, including hot orange “Star 2000,” deep magenta “Hot Lady,” tangerine “Orange Crush” and two-tone “Circus” roses. Green cymbidium orchid florets traced the perimeter.
Making a dragon out of flowers and such
Snakelike eyes and shark-like teeth make for a fearsome dragon face on the Singpoli float. Roses and dry materials in brilliant fiery colors are accented with citrus fruit bumps and magenta orchids to add textural interest. Alternating rows of roses, anthurium, orange halves, protea, dianthys and mokara orchids along the back of the creature.
Great balls of fire!
Real fireballs rolled out of the Singpoli dragon’s mouth throughout the parade as the head moved along x, y and z axes to simulate the movement of a real head. The tail also swung back and forth, and both elements needed hydraulics to be lowered to pass under power line and overpasses. Fire marshals reviewed and tested the special effects in the months before the Rose Parade. It was a spectacular show.
As “Marco Polo: East Meets West” rounded the corner at Orange Grove and Colorado, the length and scope of the float could be seen. The entry was 55 feet long, 26 feet high, and 18 feet wide with two loops in the body. One can see why dragons are sometimes called “snakes;” this giant snake, if uncurled and laid straight, would measure 175 feet long. Float riders included Phil Anderson, Ronald Hui and Briana Hui.
Terrifying talons and scaly skin
Whole citrus fruit and trimmed rinds of grapefruit, oranges and tangerine created the scaly skin on the legs and feet on the dragon. Talons were covered in metallic silverleaf. Reminiscent of a barnyard chicken, this is one rooster that one would not want to meet up with. The photo was taken during Deco Week while the fresh materials were still being put on.