More than one million spectators lining Colorado Blvd. and millions more watching around the world were treated to the antics of Academy-Award®-winning Pepé Le Pew and Penelope Pussycat, entertainers of the young and the young at heart for more than 60 years, as they took to the southern California skies aboard one of the Land of Enchantment’s most iconic images.
Also joining in the fun were the float’s celebrated riders – actor Bryan Cranston, who has earned widespread critical acclaim and back-to-back Primetime Emmy Awards® for his portrayal as Walter White in AMC’s drama series “Breaking Bad” filmed in Albuquerque; his daughter, Taylor; Miss Mew Mexico 2008 Christina Olmi; Lauren Ivy Aguilar, an employee of New Mexico State Parks, one of the float’s most ardent supporters over the years; and Little Miss New Mexico Mackenzie Brabson of Alamogordo, who was in Pasadena with her mother and grandmother volunteering as float decorators when she was asked to fill in for Miss NM 2009 Nicole Miner, who was unable to attend.
The Grand Marshal’s Trophy is given “for excellence in creative concept and design” and is one of the top three awards given each year. It is also New Mexico’s third award in as many years. Last year, the state’s float featuring Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote won the Bob Hope Humor Award, given to the float that is considered by the judges to be the “most comical and amusing.” Today is the fourth time in the past five years that New Mexico was represented by a float in the Tournament of Roses® Parade.
The float was once again designed by award-winning float designer Raul Rodriguez and built by Fiesta Parade Floats of Pasadena, Calif. under contract with the Tourism Department.
“This was a fabulous experience and an incredible honor for the citizens of New Mexico,” Michael Cerletti, Secretary of the Tourism Department, said of the award. “We are grateful to Raul, Tim (Estes) and all the folks at Fiesta Parade Floats. We also thank the more than 50 New Mexico volunteers who traveled by plane and automobile to California to work on the float and take part in the festivities; our volunteer float riders who are wonderful ambassadors for the State of New Mexico; and we particularly want to thank our sponsors – Visit Albuquerque, Las Cruces Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Town of Taos, the City of Gallup, Red Rock Balloon Rally, Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino, New Mexico State Parks and El Pinto Foods.”
The national and international exposure offered New Mexico through television coverage of the last year’s Tournament of Roses® Parade is valued at more than $1 million, according to industry experts. Nearly 40 million Americans in 16.5 million households tuned in to watch the 2008 parade on nine national and international television networks, including NBC, ABC, HGTV and the Travel Channel. The Parade was also broadcast live in 150 countries and territories.
“The response the state has received from our appearances in the previous Tournament of Roses® Parades and the media efforts we sponsored primarily targeting the Southern California travel market have been tremendous,” Secretary Cerletti added. “This is an incredibly effective way to reach potential visitors to New Mexico from all around the country and all over the world.”
The float featured the love-struck French skunk Pepé Le Pew, seeking “l’amour” as he yet again was in romantic pursuit of Penelope Pussycat, armed with amorous gifts of red roses and a heart-shaped box of chocolates. In her attempt to escape the ever-persistent Pepé, Penelope dangled precariously from the gondola of a swaying hot-air balloon. Pepé turned from side-to-side as he offered tokens of his affections.
The picturesque landscapes of New Mexico were comically depicted in animation art form from the snow-capped trees of the majestic mountains, through the teetering rock formations on down to the colorful desert floor bursting alive with blooming yuccas.
Pepé and Penelope were artistically crafted in layers of velvety black onion seed and crisp white coconut flakes. The colorful hot air balloons were created in a rainbow of materials including yellow and gold strawflower petals, green split peas, blue, hot pink and purple sinuata statice, dehydrated carrot and red bell peppers, safflower spice, sweet rice and coconut flakes. The gondola baskets were woven in cornhusk and kiwi vines.
The colorful landscape of New Mexico came vividly alive in over 50,000 roses. The unique rock formations were created in butterscotch and bronze chrysanthemums with striations of roses including brown Leonodis, Café Ole, Coffee Break and tan Caramel and Sahara roses. The desert floor featured orange rose shades of Saturno, Star 2000, Mercedes, Tropical Amazon and Verano. Yucca blossoms were created in over 10,000 white dendrobium orchid florets individually glued onto small welded rods.
High-resolution photos of the float will be available upon request at the conclusion of the parade.