LOS ANGELES (January 4, 2017)—AHF celebrated the opening moments of the new year at the 128th Rose Parade in Pasadena on Monday, where its float entry was dedicated to the 49 individuals who were killed in the Pulse Nightclub attack in Orlando, FL last June.
The award-winning float, titled “To Honor and Remember Orlando” and created by Fiesta Parade Floats of Irwindale, featured an enormous, soaring floral dove with outstretched wings flying over a memorial field of 49 white stars embedded in a floral garden to honor those killed during the shooting. On Sunday, the float judging committee for this year’s Rose Parade, whose theme was “Echoes of Success,” awarded AHF its Lathrop K. Leishman prize for “most beautiful noncommercial float.”
Three survivors of the attack, Victor Baez Febo, Isaiah Henderson and Jahqui Sevilla, whose boyfriend was killed in the attack, waved to the crowd from the float during its 5.5 mile parade route. Other riders include Barbara Poma, cofounder and owner of the club as well as four community members involved in the recovery and healing efforts in Orlando: Patty Sheehan, an openly gay Orlando City Commissioner, who has been a vocal and passionate voice in the community and around the tragedy; Joel Morales, an HIV testing counselor and lead case worker for many of the survivors and families; and Corey Lyons and Gustavo Marrero, the president and vice president, respectively, of Impulse Group Orlando, both of whom played a significant role in the Orlando community after the attack.
AHF’s five previous Rose Parade entries include:
- 2012: ‘Our Champion,’ a tribute to Elizabeth Taylor for her tireless advocacy and work in the fight against AIDS after her death in 2011. Earned the Tournament’s ‘Queen’s Trophy.’
- 2013: ‘The Global Face of AIDS,’ a global salute to AHF patients and medical staff from around the world. Earned the Tournament’s ‘Queen’s Trophy.’
- 2014: ‘Love is the Best Protection,’ featured the same-sex wedding—a Tournament first—of Aubrey Loots and Danny Leclair. Earned the Tournament’s ‘Isabella Coleman Trophy.’
- 2015: ‘Protecting Global Health,’ honored Ebola First Responders, including two AHF doctors in Africa, Dr. Sheik Hummar Khan and Dr. John Taban Dada, who died of Ebola while caring for patients.
- 2016: ‘A Girl’s World of Adventure,’ celebrated and sought to empower young girls the world over. Riders include five 10 and 11 year-old girls—three of whom are HIV-positive—from around the US.