American-Armenian Rose Float Association team member working on a float

Armenian Americans to Again Participate in Rose Parade Next Year

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WASHINGTON — One of the oldest American parades, the Rose Parade, aka the Tournament of Roses, began 133 years ago. On New Year’s Day of 1890, the beautiful tradition of featuring roses and flowers was launched in Pasadena. Californians tried to keep the tradition alive during World War II, but the beautiful festivity was canceled in 2021 because of COVID.

The Armenian American Rose Float of 2016

The state of California hosts the largest community of Armenian Americans, and Pasadena is one of the most densely Armenian-populated cities. Naturally, the famous parade could not go on without Armenian participation.

American-Armenian Rose Float Association team working on a float

“We have had five floats and three awards,” said Arthur Kokozyan, the director of the American-Armenian Rose Float Association, when we met in Washington, D.C., during his most recent visit to the nation’s capital. “About 50 million people watch it every year. This is about four times bigger an audience than those who watch the World Series of Baseball,” he remarked.

American-Armenian Rose Float Association Director Arthur Kokozyan

“Խենթեր եկան քով քովի [the crazy ones got together]” added Kokozyan in Armenian, recalling that in 2014 a group of Armenians who had what was at that point a seemingly difficult dream to participate and to gain an award at the rose float formed a committee.

“Eight of us, not tied to any politics, got together with this goal. We have had five floats and three awards,” noted Kokozyan, referring to the participation of the Armenian Americans in 2015 (the winner), 2016, 2017, 2018 (won Judge’s award), and 2019. “Now, we are back again,” added Arthur. The Association has already submitted the application for the 2024 award and got approved. Now they are working on the designs on the Rose Parade Float of 2024. The Facebook page of the Association features the updates.

American-Armenian Rose Float Association team member showing off the design of a team hoodie

The Armenian American group has received trophies, including the top one, 60% of the time it participated. Kokozyan refers to the profound preparation they work on as a key reason for success.

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“We have Armenian historians helping us. And we have our in-house designer that goes to elements and knows how to design a float. And has learned the techniques,” added Kokozyan.

Once you win or receive a trophy, you have more airtime on TV and media; therefore, it’s imperative to prepare a competitive float for Californian Armenians.

The floats feature details of Armenian history, architecture, and historical sites of Armenia/Artsakh: the Sardarabad monument, the We Are Our Mountains monument of Stepanakert, the Tatev monastery and Garni Temple, and many others. Armenian folk music and dances are performed on the float during the parade.

Coincidentally, next year the president of the parade is an ethnic Armenian – Alex Aghajanian.

The video below includes the interview with Martin Kokozyan and details of the Armenian Rose Float.

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