Gayle Anderson was live to see the West Covina Rose Float Foundation's entry title "Tuskegee Airmen - A Cut Above." It pays tribute to the service, bravery and commitment of the Tuskegee Airmen. The Tuskegee Airmen is the name of the group of African American pilots trained at Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama. During WWII, many were assigned to the 332nd Fighter Group. This Fighter Group included the 99th Fighter Squadron that began training in July 1941 and served with distinction in North Africa and European campaigns. Also known as the "Red Tails" because of the distinctive red paint on the vertical stabilizers of the unit's aircraft. By the end of the war, 992 pilots were trained in Tuskegee. Other Tuskegee Airmen were assigned to the 477th Bombardment Group. They underwent intensive tactical training for assignment in the Pacific Theater of Operations. Also recognized as Tuskegee Airmen are the approximately 17,000 African American men and women who were trained for service in the Army Air Corps, including mechanics, communication specialists, cooks, medical technicians, parachute riggers, administrative clerks, flight instructors, navigators and bombardiers. The West Covina Rose Float Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation and is fully responsible for the management and fundraising activities of their annual entry into the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade. If you are interested in making a donation or volunteering with the Foundation, please visit their website at This float was built by Charisma Floats


Gayle also featured "Jungle Cuts," the creation of two Cal Poly campuses' 62nd consecutive entry in Friday's Rose Parade. The monkeys are barbers doing the hair of an assortment of animals in a float that uses the Cal Poly trademarks - humor and animation. Numerous elements will be animated and there will be a working waterfall, said Johnathan Jianu of Glendale, a third-year mechanical engineering student at Cal Poly Pomona. Putting together a float is never easy, but with as many moving parts as there are this year, the students had a few surprises to overcome, Jianu said. Among the challenges: The float's battery-operated system wasn't capable of supporting the power load of all of the animation. The problem was resolved by adding a generator that students borrowed from the Tournament of Roses, Jianu said. "We have a lot of those `uh oh' moments," he said. However, technology isn't everything. Numerous natural and dry flower materials have been used to decorate the float, which includes hundreds of exotic flowers such as orchids. "We will have over a thousand orchids on the float. I'm excited," said La Verne resident Mary Weaver, Cal Poly Pomona's decorations chairwoman. Orchids will be used in the trees that serve as the barber monkeys' work areas as well as around the waterfall and the base of the float. The orchids were purchased with the help of donors, Weaver said. The float has involved a year's worth of work "just for 30 seconds on TV," she said. But the efforts are worthwhile, Weaver said. For more information, visit the website: