When the 127th Tournament of Roses Parade rolls along Colorado Blvd. on Jan. 1, 2016, who will be waving from the Grand Marshal’s car? It’s that time of year again, time for readers to chime in. It’s quite probable that Pres. Mike Matthiessen has already chosen the person or persons who best fit the theme “Find Your Adventure,” but it’s always fun to guess.
One reader has already stated his preference for Smokey Bear, but this is unlikely for two reasons: First, the Rose Parade is collaborating with the National Parks Service for its 100th anniversary, and Smokey is on the United States Forest Service payroll. Second, Rose Parade fans might not cotton to another non-human Grand Marshal; there was a bit of an uproar when Kermit The Frog (1996) and Mickey Mouse (2005) held the seat of honor.
If Matthiessen does choose to go the non-human route, how about a robot? The Mars Science Lab, better known as Curiosity, has adventured farther into an alien world than anything else made on earth, caught the fancy of millions of people, and opened new vistas to scientists, engineers, and regular folks all over the earth. Created by the Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena for NASA, it has a local tie-in as well.
NASA’s top administrator, former astronaut Charles Bolden, Jr. would seem to be a perfect choice. He piloted the space shuttles Columbia, Atlantis, and Discovery (twice) into outer space. He continues to serve and promote adventures in science to the stars and to the depths of earth’s oceans. Wouldn’t it be a treat to have a special float with a Martian landscape, Bolden at the top waving to the crowds and Curiosity’s twin here on earth nestled on the front deck among red roses?
Of course, a more obvious choice would be Jonathan B. Jarvis, Director of the National Parks Service. He’s the guy who oversees the 22,000 NPS employees and 408 national parks, ensuring that America’s stunning landscapes and treasured icons are preserved so that people from all over the world can find their adventure.
The ladies should not be forgotten, either. Jane Goodall was the 2013 Grand Marshal, certainly and adventurer as well as a scientist. There’s writer Kira Salak, who traveled in Mali and Papua and works for National Geographic. Two years ago, the brave women pilots of the WASP, who flew supply missions and tried out new aircraft during World War II, had a float in the Rose Parade. Maybe they could be called back to duty in the Grand Marshal’s spot.
Returning to adventures in space, how about a few of the 59 women who have completed space flights? Mae Jemison is a favorite; not only is she the first African-American woman to travel in space, she’s a big Star Trek fan. The shuttle that took her on her first space adventure, Endeavor, hangs in the California Science Center in Los Angeles. Lots of photo opps, there!
There are certainly endless suggestions as to the perfect person(s) to embody “Find Your Adventure.” Readers are invited to submit their ideas in the comments below or on Facebook at All Things Rose Parade.