For the first time, The Rose Parade line-up includes a float that pays tribute to the fight against AIDS, and to role that the late actress Elizabeth Taylor played in bringing the issue to the world's attention.
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation was the last float sponsor to get word from the Tournament of Roses Association that it made the cut.
"They call it the Elizabeth Taylor float," says Dana Miller, who handles event production at the foundation. "We call it the HIV and AIDS float and that’s fine."
The South Pasadena native says he feels the Rose Parade wasn't ready for an HIV/Aids awareness float - until now.
"The very fact for me as a kid, growing up there – the very fact that there’s a red ribbon, gigantic HIV and AIDS float drawing attention to this pandemic worldwide in the Pasadena Rose Parade blows me away," he says. "It just blows me away."
Timing is everything. The year about to end marks the 30th anniversary of the discovery of the AIDS virus. This is also the year in which Elizabeth Taylor died. The venerable actress used her celebrity to help draw the AIDS epidemic out of the closet.
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s Dana Miller says it makes sense to honor Taylor’s commitment to the fight at a New Year’s celebration millions of people watch.
He adds that this may be the first Rose Parade float with a HIV/AIDS awareness theme, but it won’t be the last.