If the millions of television viewers who tune into the Rose Parade each year know anything about La Cañada Flintridge, it’s that the town has a healthy sense of humor — and, apparently, a soft spot for pandas.
For the third consecutive year and fifth time in the past seven years, the La Cañada Flintridge Tournament of Roses Float Association produced an entry — “Panda-monium” — worthy of the Bob Hope Humor Award. LCF’s entry has earned an award for seven consecutive years, and 29 times in its 40-year history.
“When we had the judging, we made the judges laugh, and that’s the whole point of the La Cañada float,” said Chuck Terhune, LCFTRA president. “We’re whimsical and funny and surprising.”
LCF’s float, which depicted three mischievous baby pandas who escaped from a breeding facility in China to discover the wonders of nature, also was one of the parade’s only six “self-built” floats (meaning that it was conceived of and constructed by volunteers and not professionals).
The city also boasted a pair of regal princesses on the Tournament of Roses Royal Court. La Cañada High School’s Julianne Lauenstein and Georgia Cervenka were among seven accomplished young women in crowns waving enthusiastically at parade-goers all along the 5 ½-mile parade route.
“It was really surreal, it just surpassed our expectations,” Cervenka said. “You hear about it, but to do it in real life was really amazing.”
Said Lauenstein: “It was so much fun. It was so crazy, halfway through I couldn’t believe it was my real life. Everyone was just so happy.”
Comedians Will Ferrell and Molly Shannon certainly seemed to enjoy themselves. Terhune said he was amused when he tuned in to watch the duo, in character as local TV anchors Cord Hosenbeck and Tish Cattigan, host live coverage of the Rose Parade, which was streamed on Amazon Prime.
Ferrell’s Hosenbeck offered unique analysis of LCF’s float, which fit the parade’s theme, “Making a Difference,” by celebrating human cooperation across boundaries to end the endangered status of the giant panda.
“What a worthy cause, Tish. When I think about La Cañada Flintridge, I almost always think about pandas,” Ferrell joked.
Claiming LCF as his hometown, he continued: “We’re just known the world over for our love of pandas, it’s just that simple. And we actually have the most pandas in captivity; people actually have pandas in their homes.”
The folks with the La Cañada Flintridge Tournament of Roses Association took it all in stride, posting on the organization’s official Twitter account: “La Cañada Flintridge IS known for its love of pandas. Thanks for everyone who supported us this year.”
In addition to the 1,400 volunteers from LCF and beyond who helped put together “Panda-monium” and the money raised for the necessary materials as well as a new sound system, Terhune said LCFTRA raised about $10,000 of a desired $30,000 that it will cost to rebuild the float’s computer and animation system.
“We really appreciate the community this year, they really came forward,” Terhune said. “And our float worked out perfectly.”
Local panda lovers can get an up-close look at “Panda-monium” Saturday morning at Memorial Park, Terhune said.