This year a very special touch was added to a particular float. The Garden Of Oz Rose Parade float strutted its stuff proving to be the gracious winner of the Fantasy Trophy with the help of a featured rose that had the privaledge to travel to outer space.
NASA astronaut Rex Walheim and official sponsor's of the Garden Of Oz float, Bayer Advanced Rose Specialist Lance Walheim cooperatively worked together to see that this special rose picked from the Wrigley Mansion (home to the Tournament of Roses) made it to outer space and back to earth in the same condition it left in.
Asking older brother Lance Walheim how he figured out how the rose could possibly survive being in outer space with younger brother Rex Walheim, he exclaimed, “I looked into a number of ways we could dry the rose and I actually hung some roses upside down like any prom queen would and that actually worked the best…”
Rex Walheim’s main doubts were that the rose would not make it through the riggers of the launch up to space.
“A dried rose is very fragile and my main concern was how it was going to handle the launch vibration…but we thought we’d still give it a shot and see what happens.”
Sealing the dried rose in an acrylic box, Rex Walheim circled the earth 202 times with the rose on the Space Shuttle Atlantis in February last year.
Once Rex Walheim noticed the rose in perfect condition while up in space he knew they would make it back to earth with terrific news!
Lance Walheim explained, “We were real relieved! Rex kept saying he was going to have rose dust!”
Finding out who's bright idea it was to bring the rose as one of the items with Rex Walheim into space, Lance Walheim jokes, "I'm his older brother, I can make him do anything!"
Rex Walheim is just glad that he can get his older brother to help him with his garden at home if he ever has any problems. "It's great to have an older brother who's an expert in the garden, when do I ever hear him asking me to help him with his problems at the space station? Ha ha"
Bringing the rose that “traveled over the rainbow” back to earth was quite a relief for the Walheim brothers. This being the first time working together professionally, I’d say the NASA astronaut and the Bayer Advanced rose expert made the perfect team to complete this rose mission to space and back.
The rose featured on Bayer Advanced's Garden Of Oz float definitely made this years 120th Rose Parade extra special! Completing the float there were over 12,000 bright, colorful flowers to capture the essence of the land of Oz.
The Garden Of Oz featured sculpted characters including the Scaewcrow, Tin Man, Cowardly Lion, and Professor Marvel (a.k.a The Wizard of Oz). Riders of the float were Dorothy and Glinda the Good Witch who happend to be the one holding the dried rose throughout the parade.
The Garden Of Oz was a sure sight to see in this years Rose Parade. Grasping the perfect concept of this years theme, " Hats Off to Entertainment," the Garden Of Oz float was a definite favorite of the entire event.
Photos courtesy of NASA