Members of the youth group at Light of the Hills Lutheran Church in Cameron Park did not ring in the New Year by watching television as a glass ball descended a pole in Times Square; not by watching a fireworks display or attending a party with friends.
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Instead, they celebrated the week leading up to the new year by getting glue on their fingers and “pushing petals” to honor the memory of Scott Santana, a local youth who died in May 2011 and was honored on this year’s Donate Life float for donating his organs.
The group belongs to the Petal Pushers, an elite corps of volunteers who travel from all over the country to gather in Pasadena each year. These volunteers spend the week attaching thousands of roses, carnations, lilies, mums and other flowers, as well as natural materials such as seeds, coffee beans and leaves, to create the majestic beauty and splendor of the floral floats riding down Pasadena’s Colorado Boulevard during the annual Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year’s Day.
“This is my first time helping to decorate the floats,” Simone Adams said. “Our youth pastor is from the local area and has decorated for the Petal Pushers before, so we thought it was a great way to serve. It was nice to be involved in such a unique project with people who share my faith.”
Many of the Petal Pushers come to decorate the Lutheran Hour Ministries float — a Tournament of Roses perennial for 63 years. The float’s sponsor, St. Louis-based Lutheran Hour Ministries, is a Christian outreach organization named for The Lutheran Hour, the world’s longest-running Gospel-centered radio program.
A large number of the 5,000-member-plus Petal Pusher organization’s volunteers help out on up to eight other Rose Parade floats as well — turning the week into one of the largest volunteer events in the country.
“I liked working with people from all over the country and seeing how the floats are put together,” said Dexter Adams. The youth spent most of their time working on the City of Los Angeles float cutting petals off flowers and gluing leaves on top of the float.
The 124th Tournament of Roses Parade presented by Honda, under the theme “Oh, the Places You’ll Go,” was watched live on television by approximately 40 million Americans and by millions more around the world.
The New Year’s Day parade this year featured 42 floats composed of around 40 million flowers among the 91 units that also included marching bands and equestrian units.
“Seeing the parade and knowing we helped feels very special,” said Simone. “We were blown away at how much work, effort and flowers it takes to do just a very small part of each float.”
For more information about Lutheran Hour Ministries visit lhm.org.
For information on the Petal Pushers and its volunteer opportunities visit petalpushers.org.