PASADENA – Raul R. Rodriguez’s famed career as an award-winning float designer for the Tournament of Roses Parade, where he was often seen with this blue hyacinth macaw, Sebastian, was as colorful as his extravagant works.
Rodriguez, who graduated from Cal State Long Beach in 1969 as an illustration major, designed 528 Rose Parade floats during his 38-year career and won the Sweepstakes Trophy, the parade’s highest honor for most beautiful entry with outstanding floral presentation and design, 31 times – more than any other designer.
Rodriguez, 71, who died in Pasadena in 2015, and his work are the topic of “Mr. Rose Parade,” a six-minute tribute video that was made earlier this year and sent to the Smithsonian Institution’s American History Collection.
“His design work was very sculptural. It told stories,” Robert Cash, Rodriguez’s husband, said in the video. “He could take an idea and pull it in any direction. It could be whimsical. It could be elegant or historic.”
“Raul made a tremendous impact on the Rose Parade,” Jim Hynd, who collaborated with Rodriguez for 20 years said in the video.
Rod Velasquez, who graduated from CSULB’s film and electronic arts department in 2015, and Zachary Stewart, a senior in the program, were commissioned by a Glendale marketing company to make the video, which was part of a tribute display at this year’s pre-Rose Parade exhibit.
“Raul Rodriguez had such an incredible influence on float design,” Velasquez said in a statement. “Learning about Raul and his robust accomplishments gave me a newfound appreciation for the creative artwork that goes into the Rose Parade.”
Rodriguez, who began his career at the age of 15 when he created his first Rose Parade float, studied at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena before attending CSULB.
Among his many works, he was designer for the opening stage set of the World’s Fair in New Orleans, art director for Philadelphia’s “We the People 200” United States’ Bicentennial Parade and consultant to the Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
Rodriguez’s creations have decorated several Las Vegas hotels: the Flamingo Hilton, Tropicana, Caesars Palace and Circus Circus.
Rodriguez also created Six Flags’ “Glow in the Park,” a nighttime electric parade, and was an illustrator of children’s books.
Rodriguez was honored as distinguished alumnus for CSULB’s College of the Arts in 1993.