Local women take part in Tournament of Roses Parade in California

Lorretta Sigler of Oregon was recently in southern California celebrating the start of the New Year by “pushing petals” in preparation for the annual Tournament of Roses Parade. (Courtesy photo).

‘This has been such a fun way to spend time with friends’

PASADENA, Calif. – Dixon’s Joy Holden and Chèrie Van Woz Arch, Oregon’s Lorretta Sigler and Franklin Grove’s Samantha Dopke wanted to ring in 2023 by doing something special, so they decided to participate in one of America’s time-honored New Year’s traditions. No, they were not making a toast in Times Square while the glass ball descended just before midnight on New Year’s Eve. Instead, they are in southern California celebrating the start of the New Year by “pushing petals” in preparation for the annual Tournament of Roses Parade.

The Illinois residents belong to the Petal Pushers, an elite corps of volunteers who travel from all over the country to gather in Pasadena, California each year. These volunteers spend the week between Christmas and New Year’s attaching thousands of roses, carnations, lilies, mums, and other flowers, as well as natural materials such as seeds, coffee beans and leaves, to create the majestic beauty and splendor of the floral floats that rode down Pasadena’s Colorado Boulevard during the Rose Parade on Jan. 2.

“This is my second time participating,” Holden said. “I was here in 2015 and knew I needed to come back again. It is incredible to see all the ways that organic materials are used to create these floats.” 

Many of these Petal Pushers come to decorate the Lutheran Hour Ministries float — a Tournament of Roses perennial for more than 70 years and the only Christian-themed float in the parade. This year’s float, under the theme “A New Day with Jesus,” features the sun rising behind a church as Jesus stands at the open doors ready to welcome everyone into His fold, where He promises to make Himself known in the gathering of His people, the reading and proclamation of His Word, and participation in Holy Baptism and Communion.   
A large number of the 4,000-member-plus Petal Pusher organization’s volunteers help on as many as seven other Rose Parade floats (such as City of Hope, Mutual of Omaha and the opening parade and football legacy floats) as well — turning the week into one of the largest servant events in the country. It is an opportunity to make new friends, network and share expressions of the faith that gives true meaning to this experience.

“It is wonderful meeting all of the incredible volunteers from across the country who are motivated to return each year to keep the parade going,” Dopke said. “We are amazed seeing how much detail is involved in decorating the floats with the beautiful natural materials the Good Lord has created for us to use and enjoy. Seeing the floats on television does not do it justice.”

In keeping with its “Never on Sunday” tradition followed since 1893, the 2023 Rose Parade presented by Honda began at 8 a.m. pacific time on Jan. 2. The iconic annual parade was watched live on television by millions of people around the world. It aired on ABC, NBC, Peacock, Cowboy Channel and RFD-TV.

“I have enjoyed being here for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with my cousin and some close friends,” Van Woz Arch said. “I would definitely like to come back and do this again.”
“This has been such a fun way to spend time with friends,” Sigler said. “We can’t wait to attend the parade in person and see the end results of our work.”
Lutheran Hour Ministries is a trusted resource in global media that equips and engages a vibrant volunteer base to passionately proclaim the Gospel to people around the world more than 150 million times each week. Through its North American headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri, and ministry centers on six continents, LHM reaches into more than 60 countries, often bringing Christ to places where no other Christian evangelistic organizations are present. For more information about Lutheran Hour Ministries, visit www.lhm.org. For information on the Petal Pushers and its volunteer opportunities, visitwww.petalpushers.org.

More In Community