A replica of the Korean War Veterans Memorial floated down Colorado Boulevard as part of the 124th Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena on New Year's Day. The float, “Freedom is Not Free,” honored the veterans of the Korean War, commemorating 60 years since the armistice was signed on July 27, 1953. It was sponsored by the Department of Defense.
The float included floral replicas of six of the 19 statues from the original monument on the National Mall. The largest statue on the float was over 18 feet tall, with the entire float being 22 feet tall, 15 feet wide and 55 feet long. The soldiers were shaded in dark and light lettuce seed, with poppy seed undersides. Their stainless steel covering was created using silver leaf. Over 10,000 flowers (including several thousand roses) were used, along with Christmas trees, lentils, and various crushed organic material. As with all Rose Parade floats, every inch of the float was covered with organic material (including up under their capes).
The float and the Korean War 60th commemoration were featured in every major news media outlet across the country, with most including a picture of the float and a reference to the National Korean Memorial in Washington, D.C. The Rose Parade attracts over a million people along the parade route and more than 40 million television viewers in the U.S. The parade is also broadcast via satellite in 220 territories around the world, reaching hundreds of millions more.
The DOD appropriated Korean War 60th Commemoration team worked with contractor Whitney Stone and Phoenix Decorating Co to build the float and coordinate the press coverage and volunteers.
Prince William Forest Park employee Tracy Ballesteros went to Pasadena to work on the float for three days.
“The experience was one I will forever cherish,” says Tracy. “I have a great respect for our country's veterans and this float was a labor of love for many of us on the crew. The fact that the float was a replica of a unit of the National Park Service was a real bonus, as I was able to interpret the national memorial and promote the NPS while working side-by-side with the volunteers from across the country.”
If you have questions, please contact Tracy Ballesteros. She was involved in the float from its inception in 2011 and would be happy to provide you more information.