Posted by Craig Kausen
It was an incredible honor and one of my most memorable days to ride on the New Mexico Rose Parade Float on New Year's day this year. This is me (Craig), my mother (Linda), and a great new friend of ours, Jim Garcia from Albuquerque as we started down Orange Grove Blvd as we left our starting position.
The experience actually made me giddy. I felt like a little kid getting to play out a magical fairy tale dream that lasted for, what seemed like, hours and hours! (Ok, it actually was hours and hours…)
We actually first were introduced to the float the day before when the official judging occurs.
Although it doesn't show in this picture, the morning of the judging there were hundreds of people previewing the floats, talking to the float builders and riders. It's quite an event in itself.
As a float rider, we needed to be in full regalia and seated on the float. Unfortunately, I cannot share photos with you because they shoo everyone out of the hangar that is not part of the float building crew.
Obviously we were judged worthy because they awarded the New Mexico Float with the Bob Hope Humor Trophy for most comical and amusing entry.
On New Year's morning, we were picked up a few miles from the parade route at 5:15 am (or as my brother said O'Dark Early). (Special thanks to our friends John and Leanne for hosting us nearby so we didn't need to wake up at 3am instead of 4!) It was a brisk 38 degrees and I had much sympathy for the float crew who spent the entire night on Orange Grove Blvd with the Road Runner and Coyote.
We had the opportunity walk the entire staging area before we got underway. The detail and magnitude of the presentations in each of the floats was amazing. We bumped into our dear friend John Ramirez (of Acme Animation www.AcmeAnimation.org) who designed three floats for the parade and won three awards!
We waved until our arms nearly fell off and yelled "Happy New Year" until our voices nearly vanished. I also carried Chuck's cane and hat the entire way to help celebrate his animated creations.
I think the most amazing thing to me about the parade is the sheer magnitude of it. Before we even made the turn onto Colorado Blvd, we passed thousands upon thousands of people who had slept out on the curbside, arrived early to stand toward the back of the crowd, or continued to wander up and down in front of the mansions lined up along the road.
As we turned the corner onto Colorado I wish I had video from my perspective of the grandeur of the grandstands, the cacophony of the crowds, and the legion of cameras, photographers, news people that reached for as far as I could see.
Here's a link to the snippet from the local coverage by KTLA…. and yes I received dozens of emails, texts and even some Facebook postings asking me if I was one of the "Humans" who were referred to by host Stephanie Edwards during the broadcast…
The remaining five plus miles of the parade route was packed with people for the entire distance (again the magnitude of it all). If you can't picture five plus miles with enthusiastic, cheering families, think of nearly 100 football fields lined up end to end with 20 to 200 people deep on both sides for the entire distance.
A huge thank you to Raul Rodriguez, the float designer, for doing such an incredible job with the design and for respecting the characters that were created 60 years ago this year. Raul is here with us in ready to ride the China Airlines Float he designed as well.
And thank you to the State of New Mexico for celebrating Chuck's most famous characters and the long relationship Chuck, New Mexico, and the Road Runner have all had.
Trivia: Did you know that Chuck and the State of New Mexico were both born in 1912?
More: Did you know that Chuck created the Road Runner in 1949? And that New Mexico chose the roadrunner as their state bird the exact same year… coincidence? I don't think so…