If you’re like me, your favorite floats in the Tournament of Roses Parade each year are the ones that feature dogs, whether the pups are real or flower-covered facsimiles.
For a few years, the dog food company Natural Balance partnered with the nonprofit Lucy Pet Foundation, which provides low-cost spay/neuter and adoption mobile clinics, to create floats featuring surfing, skateboarding or snowboarding dogs — especially a multi-talented Bulldog named Tillman, who crossed the Rainbow Bridge in October 2015.
Surfing dogs are back in the 2017 parade, thanks to a partnership between the Lucy Foundation and American Wave Machines, Inc. And, for the first time in the parade’s 128-year history, the float will break two Guinness World Records as the parade’s longest and heaviest float ever. The “Beachside Paradise” float, built by Fiesta Parade Floats, is 126 feet long and weighs 148,200 pounds — including the 8,000 gallons of water it will hold for the dogs to surf on.
Eight Dogs a-Surfing
The eight surfing dogs won a national competition to secure their spots on the float. A machine provided by American Wave Machines will produce the perfect wave for them every five seconds. After each dog catches a wave, he or she will ride in a car-shaped cage along a track back to the front of the pool.
To make sure the dogs were comfortable with the wave machine, Motortrend reports that the rear section of the float that contains the generator and wave pool was transported by truck to surfing competitions around the country so the dogs could test it out.
The surfers hanging 10 — er, 20 — are Surfin’ Jack, a Golden Retriever/Saluki mix who’s also a registered service dog; Sully, an English Bulldog (and Tillman lookalike); Coppertone, a miniature Dachshund who’s believed to be the best small surfing dog; Fred, a McNab Shepherd who’s also a champion disc dog; Haole, a Labrador Retriever who provides surf therapy for special-needs children; Macho, a Jack Russell Terrier who’s also a champion dock diver; Turbo, a Golden Retriever who once helped rescue a swimmer caught in a riptide; and last but certainly not least, Rooster, an Australian Shepherd who also holds a master dock diving title.
The parade begins on Jan. 2 at 8 a.m. Pacific Time. It will be broadcast on ABC, NBC, HGTV and several other networks. (The parade is held on Jan. 2 when New Year’s Day falls on a Sunday, a tradition that goes back to 1893. The reason for the one-day delay was because the parade passed churches where horses were tied outside, and the parade organizers didn’t want to spook the horses or interrupt the church services.)