They are all ethnicities—all ages—from all over the country. They are the famous and those known only to their families and friends. They are men and women, boys and girls. What they all have in common is that they gave the gift of life when their lives were over.
The floragraph portraits of 72 organ donors appeared on the 2012 Donate Life Rose Parade float, reminding millions of viewers that the gift of life is most precious gift of all. Following the parade theme, the float celebrates life by asking viewers to Just Imagine “…One More Day.” It won the Judge’s Special trophy for “Most Spectacular in Showmanship and Dramatic Impact.”
Dramatic it was. Designer and builder Phoenix Decorating Company mounted six floral clocks with portraits at each hour mark and hands that made the circuit. The float posed the question, “What if you had one more day with your loved one?” and invited people to ponder how to make the most of the days they have.
Many of the floragraphs were not studio portraits. They were based on snapshots that caught loved ones in happy moments. Anyachiemeka Ogbuji, 14 months, sports pink face paint. Kirstin Elizabeth Cantler-Booke, 11 months and the youngest donor pictured, is sucking on a finger. Ron Kerkvliet, 71 and the oldest donor, was caught in a candid moment with other folks. These are individuals as they are remembered by the ones who love them the most.
Photos and stories of all the donors pictured on the float are posted on the Donate Life Rose Parade Float website, and can be compared with the floragraphs pictured in the slideshow attached to this article.
The 28 riders were either tissue recipients or family members of donors. They sat amid thousands of roses on the deck of the float that form a dedication garden. The names of tissue donors attached to each stem. These roses were put on in the last few days of decorating, but the dry work on the floragraphs was done earlier.
The first three weeks of December, families of donors came to Phoenix Decorating in Pasadena to decorate the portraits, and those who can’t are given the opportunity to put finishing touches on them at one of more than 40 floragraph decorating events throughout the nation. After the parade and the dismantling of the float, floragraphs are returned to the family.
We spoke with an organ recipient at the Showcase of Floats following the 2012 Rose Parade. He said that for families who cannot make it to Pasadena, something is left blank on the floral portrait for them to do. The family of Christina-Taylor Green, the nine-year-old murdered in the Gabrielle Giffords shooting in 2011, did the eyebrows at one of the decorating events.
A 33-foot-tall clock tower kept watch with hands that moved backwards in recognition of the many donors memorialized in tributes in the float’s dedication garden.
In a Donate Life Rose Parade Float Facebook posting on Jan. 2, 2012, the poster reported that the final floragraph of Christina-Taylor Green was placed at noon on Jan. 1. About two hours before judging, float rider Linda Henning and other family members linked hands around the float and sang “100 Years,” the official song. Phoenix Decorating president Chris Lofthouse was so affected that he asked for a reprise during the judging. The writer said that the judges, evaluating the float while encircled by singers, were so moved that they added five minutes to the judging time and finished with a round of applause for the families.
For information on how to become a donor, ride on a Donate Life float, or have a floragraph of your loved one on a float, visit the Donate Life Rose Parade Float website. For information on how to become an organ donor in California, read “California DMV option to sign up as organ donor reaches 9 million mark.”
For more about how floragraphs are created, read “Portraits in flowers: Photographic reality on Rose Parade floats”
For links to the 2012 float articles and other float information, read “2012 Rose Parade award-winning floats”
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