Omahan's Farm-Theme Float Set For Rose Parade

This appeared in the Omaha World-Herald - December 20, 2008

A farm scene — complete with a barn, a windmill and a steam-spewing tractor — will be a Nebraska company's flower-studded float in the Tournament of Roses Parade.

RFD-TV founder and President Patrick Gottsch of Omaha described the float as a tribute to America's farmers and ranchers.

The entry in the New Year's Day parade in Pasadena, Calif., takes its inspiration from one of the shows on its network, Hee Haw, which marks its 40th anniversary in 2009. Country music veterans Connie Smith and Marty Stuart will sing on the float — and also will take off their hats and salute the audience from a cornfield in Hee Haw tradition.

Gottsch and Gov. Dave Heineman unveiled a sketch of the float at a press conference Thursday at the Omaha Press Club. The governor said the float is worth millions of dollars in marketing and promotion for the state.

"This is exciting," Heineman said. "They are a successful Nebraska company, growing nationwide. They epitomize what Nebraska is all about."

Gottsch said the $300,000 float will showcase food and fiber produced on American farms in the 50 states. Some, such as corn and soybeans, will be the actual products. Others, such as a pig, will be fashioned from plant materials.

Roses named for country music stars such as Dolly Parton, Reba McEntire and Minnie Pearl will be used in the finishing of the float.

Gottsch said RFD-TV plans to make a Rose Parade float an annual tradition and has already started to plan a 2010 float showcasing the FFA, rural youths and modern farm technology.

RFD-TV — one of six TV networks that will broadcast the Rose Parade — will include the equestrian units that some of the networks cut out, Gottsch said.

RFD-TV is carried by satellite providers such as DirecTV and DishNetwork and recently has been added to the Charter Cable lineup. Charter reaches most of Nebraska, outside the Omaha and Lincoln areas.

Details of the float

The steam tractor is made of ti leaves (a tropical plant with large glossy-green leaves).

The barn walls are Christmas red chrysanthemums.

The sunflower petals consist of finely cut yellow strawflower, with centers of finely cut walnut shells.

The windmill is made with white rice and finely cut red strawflower accents and accented with a grapevine.

The pumpkins are created with orange lentils, pale yellow split peas and brown lentils.

The ears of corn are created with finely cut yellow strawflower kernels and ti leaves.

By Jane Palmer

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