Community Spotlight: Georgean Griswold and the Torrance Rose Float Association Need Your Help
Torrance will have a float in this year’s rose parade. At least that’s the story I heard from Georgean Griswold. According to her, not having a float is not an option. She even told me she was willing to put her own mortgage on the line to make it happen. That last comment was meant to be tongue and cheek but given Georgean’s passion and dedication for the rose float I wouldn’t put such a large personal sacrifice past her.
In an astonishing display of volunteerism and commitment Georgean has helped ensure Torrance is represented at the Rose Parade for the past 42 years. She became “hooked” volunteering with the rose float back in 1971 after recently moving to Torrance from a farming community in Minnesota. She liked that the float involved the entire community working with pride for their city. Her service to the float has now outlasted a career in the aerospace industry and nearly 20 years working with the U.S. Census Bureau. Her favorite float is the 1987 “Bully for the British” because it was so unique.
Despite Georgean’s dedication, not having a float this year is a real possibility as was recently reported by the Daily Breeze. The city cut off funding for the float three years ago. To compensate, the Torrance Rose Float Association has been able to secure corporate sponsors the past two years to help provide the $150,000 needed for the float. Notwithstanding a lot of very hard work by Georgean and the rest of the Rose Float Association Board, that has not been the case this year and the float is currently left without a major sponsor.
Not having a float would have significant consequences. The design for this year is a timely tribute to recently passed local hero Louis Zamperini. Zamperini was named the Grand Marshall of this year’s parade and the Association was able to secure the exclusive right to have a Zamperini themed float. Hence, Zamperini will not be represented by any of the floats if Torrance’s float does not appear. Torrance is also currently grandfathered into a deal with the Tournament of Roses that allows their float to appear for the $150,000. Not appearing would terminate that deal causing the cost to appear in subsequent parades to rise to as much as $250,000. Torrance would also lose its automatic position as an entrant in the parade and could be waitlisted in future years should it want to participate.
Some in the community have suggested the Association reach out to Angelina Jolie and the producers of the film “Unbroken” for sponsorships. Georgean told me that Gail Morgan, a friend of the Zamperini’s and the Torrance High Alumni Association President, did just that by spearheading an effort to contact Universal Studios. Sadly, the Association just received word from executives at Universal that they had nothing left in their advertising budget. Appeals to Jolie directly have thus far yielded no results.
The Association is considering asking the City Council for a one time contribution for this year’s float. Torrance was just recently able to find some money to fund a memorial celebration in Zamperini’s honor and the Association is hoping there might be some additional funds in those coffers. The City, however, does not currently have funds for the float in its budget.
When asked what those in the community could do to help Georgean responded by reiterating the critical need for a corporate sponsor. The Rose Parade reaches 700,000 people along the route and over 50 Million via television. Georgean pleaded for someone to contact the Association if they knew of any company that might be interested in gaining that kind of visibility.
Georgean also reminded me that the Torrance Rose Float Association is a non-profit charitable organization and that donations of all sizes either in time or in money is greatly appreciated as decorating the float requires thousands of volunteer hours. With the help of the community, the Torrance Rose Float Association is hoping that the Torrance tradition of a float in the rose parade remains “Unbroken.”
If you want to help, contact the Association at the information below.
Torrance Rose Float Association
3031 Torrance Blvd.
Torrance, CA 90503
Tax ID # 37-1647454