When the floats begin rolling down the streets of Pasadena, Calif., on New Year's Day, K9s4COPS will be among the 45 entries in the 125th annual Rose Parade. It will be the only Texas non-profit represented along the 5.5 mile course.
The coup was the brainchild of K9s4COPS founder Kristi Schiller, who felt that the parade with an estimated 500 million viewers would be an effective way to expand the K9 audience nationally and internationally. Financed through private donations, the float featuring a larger-than-life German shepherd is designed by Tim Estes, owner of Fiesta Parade Floats. That company has won the Sweepstakes award for best design in each of the last 20 years.
Decorative flowers will include 50,000 roses to comprise the lush red carpet gardens.
Kristi and John Schiller and their daughter, Sinclair, will ride the float along with K9s4COPS mascot Johnny Cash (the pooch serves as the Schillers' personal protection dog). Joining them will be K9s executive director Liz Lara-Carreno, Harris County Precinct 4 Constable Deputy Ted Dahlin and K9 Daisy and Harris County Sheriff's Department Sgt. Mike Thomas with K9 Tamara.
The 22-foot tall stately German shepherd that is focal point of the float will be covered in a variety of seeds and grasses to create a realistic look of fur. (Black onion and beige sesame seeds with accents of pharmitas and pampas grass and nyjer seed on the "protective" vest are employed in the design.) An interesting design feature — the dog "folds" from its full height down to 16 feet, allowing the float to pass under low wires and a freeway bridge.
Decorative flowers will include 50,000 roses to comprise the lush red carpet gardens, plus floral displays of orange, red and purple in red ginger, Lobster Claw, Rostrata, Caribaea and Parakeet heliconia, bird of paradise, leucadendron, liatris, roses and specialty anthuriums. In addition, thousands of Oncidium orchids, roses and bird of paradise will decorate the rear of the float.