Appetizers

Got float? Rose Parade ushers in a milky way

The California Milk Advisory Board – the “Real California Milk” people – will make its Tournament of Roses debut with its first float for the Jan. 1, 2016, Rose Parade in Pasadena.
The California Milk Advisory Board – the “Real California Milk” people – will make its Tournament of Roses debut with its first float for the Jan. 1, 2016, Rose Parade in Pasadena. California Milk Advisory Board

Sacramento State freshman Makenzie Neves, a California dairy princess, will be one of five students from California dairy families aboard a flower-covered giant pizza float in the upcoming 2016 Tournament of Roses parade in Pasadena.

For the first time on New Year’s Day, the California Milk Advisory Board – the “Real California Milk” people – will have a float in the 127th Rose Parade, seen by nearly 75 million worldwide. The 60-foot-long animated float will celebrate “Adventure in Real Food.”

Built by Fiesta Parade Floats, this 22-foot-tall floral extravaganza features a river of “milk” (actually bright white flaked coconut) with riders paddling an oversized “pizza,” “grilled cheese sandwich” and butter- and sour cream-topped “baked potato” like kayaks down white rapids that move up and down via computerized hydraulics. An “ice cream sundae” as big as a pickup truck zips ahead of the flowing milk and dairy products. A humongous orange “cheddar wheel” represents the California sun, shining on fertile fields of flowers.

The message behind this memorable and milky vignette is simple, says the float designers: “The best culinary adventures start with real milk.”

California is the nation’s No. 1 producer of milk, butter and ice cream and ranks second in cheese and yogurt. The milk board represents more than 1,400 dairy farm families.

This float celebrates more than dairy products. The California State Department of Agriculture and the California Cut Flower Commission worked with the milk board to make this float as California-centric as possible. More than 85 percent of the float’s floral material will be California grown and certified.

Float designers also incorporated several traditional cattle feed crops and byproducts into the decorations. Ground almond hulls, walnut shells, whole barley, flax seed and oats color the pizza crust, grilled cheese sandwich bread, potato skin and cheese board. Cottonseed creates the rind on a piece of Brie cheese, while corn kernels coat the giant cheddar wheel.

Dehydrated pepper flakes form the pizza’s bell pepper and pepperoni toppings. Yellow, gold and white strawflower petals blend to represent the cheese. The ice cream sundae is coated with flax seed and pink statice with a solid red rose “cherry” on top.

Fantasy flowers will be sculpted from yellow strawflower petals, with centers of yellow China mums. Also part of the California flower field are yellow, gold and light orange gerbera, yellow and orange lilies, Fuji mums, coral and orange gladioli, pincushion protea, solidaster, tulips and mini calla lilies.

Watch the parade live at 8 a.m. Friday, Jan. 1, on ABC/Channel 10 and other broadcast outlets.

Debbie Arrington: 916-321-1075, @debarrington

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