An article posted in local web news on Wednesday reported that a local quarantine on citrus would exclude the use of citrus on floats in the 2016 Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena. The article, “Citrus banned on Rose Parade Floats?” quoted a Tuesday post on the Western Farmpress blog by Todd Flichette regarding Huanglongbing (HLB) disease, which was discovered in the San Gabriel Valley earlier this year. The article stated, “Live plants and seeds adorning the beautiful floats t [sic] in the 127th Rose Parade on New Year’s Day will not include citrus….”
atombash.com contacted three of the professional float builder to get clarification on the situation. Both Beverly Stansbury, Project Manager at Fiesta Parade Floats and Charles Meier, Creative Director of Paradiso Parade Floats responded immediately. Meier wrote, “This information is partially correct and partially not correct.” Stansbury stated, “The article you read is incorrect and misleading. There is not a ban on fruit but on the tree, leaves and stems.”
An email from Victoria L. Hornbaker, Citrus Program Manager, Plant Health Division at the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), was forwarded by both Stansbury and Meier. The text was also quoted in an email of Aug. 3, 2015 from Jason Melillo, Director/Chairman of the Tournament’s Float Construction Committee.
Hornbaker provided a list of host plants and noted that it includes certain parts of lemon, lime, orange, mandarin, kumquat and grapefruit plants. Allowable parts are whole fruit without stems and leaves, completely dried stems and leaves, fruit peels, and seeds. These are often used on Rose Parade floats for color and texture. The items that are not allowed are fresh stems, leaves and flowers; potted nursery plants; and propagative materials, which are not typically used on floats.
“In all the years I have been doing this parade we have only ONCE used a living tree (two years ago on Dole) and have never used leaves or stems,” Stansbury wrote. “So, it really is not an issue or will affect Fiesta at all. Yes, we will still be using some citrus fruits.” Meier said, “Per these guidelines, Paradiso will be using very large quantities of citrus fruit on Singpoli’s entry and as accents on Donate Life’s float.”
While the blogger stated “The quarantine zone includes the entire 5.5 mile route of the Rose Parade,” this is not quite accurate, as the formation area on Orange Grove and the last leg and post-parade area on Sierra Madre and Washington boulevards appear to be outside the zone. All the float builders except self-builders South Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association and perhaps La Cañada Flintridge Tournament of Roses Association appear to be outside the boundaries.
Hornbaker’s email, in part, confirmed that only portions of Pasadena and the parade route are quarantined, but it affects the floats because they move in and out of the zone. She wrote, “Floats may be assembled outside of the HLB quarantine, move into the quarantine, traveling at a very slow speed along the parade route and then move out of the quarantine where they will be parked for an extended period of time for float viewing. This presents an undue risk for spreading Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) that may be infected with HLB from the quarantine area to the non-quarantine area.”