1950-1979 - January 1, 1978 - SB's First Rose Parade Float

Feb 15, 2023


Welcome to La Historia Society's detailed account of Santa Barbara's first Rose Parade Float on January 1, 1978. In this article, we will delve into the history and significance of this grand event during the years 1950-1979. Join us on this journey through time as we explore the origins, preparations, and impact of SB's inaugural Rose Parade Float.

The History of Rose Parade Floats in Santa Barbara

Before the inaugural Rose Parade Float in 1978, Santa Barbara had a rich history of participating in Rose Parades. Dating back to the early 20th century, the city's residents were drawn to the spectacular floral displays showcased in neighboring Pasadena, California.

The community's enthusiasm for the Rose Parade inspired local organizations, including the La Historia Society, to bring the magic of the floats to Santa Barbara. While the city had previously participated in various festivals and parades, the idea of creating a unique float to be featured in the renowned Rose Parade was a novel undertaking.

The Birth of SB's First Rose Parade Float

January 1, 1978 marked a significant milestone for Santa Barbara as it unveiled its very first Rose Parade Float. The La Historia Society, dedicated to preserving and celebrating the city's rich heritage, took on the ambitious project of creating a float that would stand out among the best. Months of meticulous planning and collaboration with skilled designers and craftsmen culminated in a breathtaking masterpiece.

The theme chosen for the inaugural float was "A Celebration of Santa Barbara's History." It aimed to encapsulate the essence of Santa Barbara's diverse cultural heritage, incorporating elements of the city's Spanish colonial past, indigenous roots, and modern advancements. The float intended to convey a message of unity and pride, showcasing Santa Barbara as a vibrant community with a vibrant history.

Preparations and Design

The preparation for SB's first Rose Parade Float began well in advance to ensure every intricate detail was perfected. A dedicated team of volunteers, artists, and craftsmen came together to bring the vision to life. The design process involved extensive research into historical archives, seeking inspiration from iconic landmarks, significant events, and beloved symbols of Santa Barbara.

Beneath the surface, sturdy frameworks were constructed to support the float's structure and accommodate the vibrant floral decorations. The use of groundbreaking techniques and materials allowed for a larger-than-life presentation while maintaining durability and longevity.

Symbolism in the Float's Design

Every element of SB's first Rose Parade Float was infused with symbolism, emphasizing the community's values and aspirations. The float featured a central figure representing Santa Barbara's iconic Old Mission, a testament to the city's enduring religious heritage. Surrounding the mission were intricate flower arrangements symbolizing the region's abundant natural beauty.

Meticulously handcrafted replicas of historic buildings, such as the Santa Barbara County Courthouse and the Presidio, adorned the float, paying homage to the city's architectural treasures. The use of vibrant, locally-sourced flowers further accentuated the diversity and richness of Santa Barbara's flora.

Unveiling and Celebration

The unveiling of SB's first Rose Parade Float on January 1, 1978, was met with great anticipation and excitement from the community. Thousands of locals and visitors lined the parade route, eagerly awaiting the procession of meticulously decorated floats.

As Santa Barbara's float made its way down the parade route, spectators marveled at the exquisite beauty and attention to detail. Applause and cheers filled the air as the float proudly showcased the city's history and culture, earning admiration and praise from both the crowd and parade judges.

The Legacy of SB's First Rose Parade Float

The success of Santa Barbara's first Rose Parade Float went far beyond its immediate impact. It set a precedent for future floats, encouraging the community to foster creativity, innovation, and historical appreciation. In the years that followed, Santa Barbara continued to participate in the Rose Parade, each float surpassing the previous one in grandeur and artistry.

Today, Santa Barbara's participation in the Rose Parade remains a beloved tradition, drawing visitors from near and far to marvel at the city's stunning floral showcases. The legacy of SB's first Rose Parade Float serves as a reminder of Santa Barbara's rich heritage and the enduring spirit of its community.


In conclusion, the inaugural Rose Parade Float on January 1, 1978, marked a major milestone for Santa Barbara and the La Historia Society. Through meticulous planning, design, and execution, SB's first float captured the community's history and cultural identity, captivating audiences along the parade route. The legacy left behind by this remarkable event continues to inspire Santa Barbara to participate in the Rose Parade, showcasing the city's rich heritage to the world. Join us in celebrating the journey of Santa Barbara's first Rose Parade Float and rediscover the magic of this historic event.