Rose Parade Floats: The Who’s Who

PBS, South Dakota, and the Lakers will all make a New Year's Day showing.

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"Rose is a rose is a rose," said Gertrude Stein, and Shakespeare wrote that "a rose by another other name would smell as sweet."

But the famous floats of the Tournament of Roses, which is parading into its 127th outing on Friday, Jan. 1, 2016, are not just about the titular flower, nor can they all be grouped into a single bouquet by either appearance or theme.

A whole caboodle of companies and bureaus and outfits sponsor the major machines each year, and one of the most lively guessing games of the Tournament, beyond who'll win the Bowl, who'll be on the court, and what person shall be named grand marshal, is pairing which float with which company.

Of course, you can stand on tippy-toe and gaze down Colorado Boulevard, if you happen to have staked a bit of curb, to attempt to surmise what group that giant bird made of lilies or sun created from daffodils is representing. Or you can just wait and read the flowery sign on the side of the float as the wheeled wonder draws in front of your spot or passes near the TV cameras.

Some 2016 highlights on the participant list? A float representing the Los Angeles Lakers, constructed by Paradiso Parade Floats, will be in the lineup, and Disneyland Resort will be there, too (Artistic Entertainment Services put the whole moving shebang together).

Lions Club International, United Sikh Mission, Trader Joe's, and Farmers Insurance Group will also be in the house, or, rather, boulevard. All four floats are the mondo work of Phoenix Decorating Company.

And the California Milk Advisory Board will make a showing, too. Will we see a cow made of carnations? An oversized milk bottle covered in tiny tulips? The excitement builds.

As it builds for the appearance of Grand Marshal Ken Burns. The Public Broadcasting Service, a longtime partner of Mr. Burns and his many documentaries, will have a vessel built by Paradiso Parade Floats.

There are a bevy of professional float builders who make a strong showing each year, too, which leads to this question: Can Rose fans guess the builder simply from the structure and appearance of a float? Surely some long-timers along the route try.

And try, while we're on the topic, to guess the who's who of the local communities. Los Angeles, Downey, Irvine, and Sierra Madre will all make a colossal, petal-covered cameo, in addition to other regional locales.

The full list brims with interesting entrants; read all here, if you want to know ahead of time. If you don't, well, sweet-scented spoiler alerts await at the Tournament of Roses HQ.

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