Like the title of the float, "Oh, the Healthy Things You Can Do," Kaiser officials say 2013 will be about finding your own thing that helps you achieve wellness.
And whether it's tap dancing or running triathlons, Kaiser has chosen eight individuals to ride on the float who they feel best exudes the message.
"As an organization we are deeply committed and compassionate about inspiring others to enhance their health and well being in mind, body and spirit.
Four of those riders hail from the Inland Empire, including Darin Miller, an operating room registered nurse at Kaiser Permanente Ontario Medical Center, who has been on a multi-year journey to lose more than 100 pounds and now participates in marathons and triathlons.
Then there's tap-dancing trio of Marge Avants, 88; Donna Evans, 80; and Jacqueline Wells, 77; who are members of the Silvers Stars. The all-senior tap dancing crew is based out of Rancho Cucamonga. The three ladies, all Kaiser Permanente members, say tap dancing has kept them going and feeling young.
"Not only does it keep me active but it keeps me happy. Things happen in your life as you get older but this is a way of going and turning it all off and doing your thing," said Evans, a Rancho Cucamonga resident. "It gives you energy and something to look forward to."
Wednesday morning, inside the Fiesta Floats warehouse, volunteers began the task of decorating the 55 foot long, 18 feet wide float with the fresh flowers and other materials including peach lentil beans, white sweet rice, green parsley flakes, and lavender sinuata statice. They will be there everyday from now until Sunday applying the final touches.
The float features a 26-foot tall Cat in the Hat, who is accompanied by Sally and Conrad who are on swings flanked on each side the of the famous feline, Thing One and Thing Two, and Karlos K. Krinklebein the fish, all characters from the best-selling Dr. Seuss books, movies and educational programs.
On the float, The Cat in the Hat takes a moment to read to Thing One and Thing Two amidst a colorful garden.
Facts about the Kaiser Permanente floatThe Cat in the Hat: The Cat in the Hat wears a hat and tie fashioned from whole red and white carnations, gloves of sweet rice with fur of velvety black onion seed and crisp white coconut flake. He rests in an overstuffed chair of green Kermit button mums and chartreuse lichen.
Thing One and Thing Two: This mischievous duo is wearing suits of red ilex berries with blue sinuata statice hair.
Karlos K. Krinklebein: The fish is covered in red lentil beans, individually applied one by one, and sits within a Wedgwood blue teapot created in statice blossoms.
Sally and Conrad: Swinging high above the scene, the siblings are dressed in an array of floral materials including rust colored safflower spice, orange and peach lentil beans, white sweet rice, green parsley flakes, and lavender sinuata statice. Sally has hair of golden flax seed and Conrad has hair styled in light brown flax seed. Both have skin created from a mixture of walnut shell, paprika, and cornmeal.
Flowers: Hovering above Sally and Conrad are mushrooms of yellow strawflowers, shiny black beans and vibrant purple dendrobium orchid florets with stems created in cobra leaves and accented with strands of braided raffia.
Roses: More than 25,000 cream Vendela, red Charlotte, pink Carousel, hot pink Princess, yellow Gold Strike and Movie Star roses were used to create the fanciful coral toned garden.
Animation: The float has a mixture of both live and animated motions. The Cat in the Hat turns his head from side to side as the pet fish and teapot spins. Sculptured figures of Sally and Conrad swing high above the deck. The float riders swing, teeter- totter and pedal bicycles while the music adds to the festive atmosphere.
Dimensions: This year s float is 55 feet long, 18 feet wide and 26 feet tall. Both The Cat in the Hat and the sculptured mushrooms fold from a height of 26 feet down to 16 feet to enable the float to cross under low wires and the freeway bridge along the parade route.
- Information courtesy of Kaiser Permanente
Asides from the riders, 16 Kaiser physicians and employees will be walking and dancing alongside the entry to a routine which was choreographed by Jason Cheng, an anesthesiologist at Kaiser Permanente Downey Medical Center.
The group met on the weekends to learn the dance, said Mirdamadi who is among those dancing.
Mirdamadi said she hopes the new year will bring a new perspective for those looking to get fit.
"You can't tell somebody to go out and run marathons but maybe you go out for a 30-minute walk. Just have fun with it. Be a kid again, do what puts a smile on your face and don't make exercise a chore," she said.
A success story
Being in the health care industry, Miller knew he couldn't teach people how to be healthy if he wasn't.
At his heaviest, Miller weighed 270 pounds with all the attached health issues - borderline diabetic, high blood pressure, he even had to have his gall bladder removed.
"As an orderly, I looked like the open heart patients I was taking to surgery," the 43-year-old Ontario resident said.
So Miller used his emergency credit to opened up a gym membership, working out five days out of the week.
He then started finding different ways to stay active, first with running and then hiking. About two years ago he discovered the challenge of participating in triathlons.
"I was hooked," he said.
He has since completed marathons, trial half marathons, and on Dec. 1 he completed his first Iron Man distance triathlon of 140 miles.
As for the float experience, Miller said his father Ned, who is like a 12-year-old trapped in an 80-year old's body, is just as thrilled by his nomination.
Miller said his completely honored and hopes his story will hit a chord with others.
"I was heavy person trapped in a lifestyle that was not healthy," he said.
It's never too late
About seven years ago, Wells retired from her job as a registered nurse and the one thing she didn't want to do was sit at home and be a couch potato, glued to the TV.
"I thought 'I better get into some kind of activity'," she said.
That's when the Rancho Cucamonga resident joined the Silver Stars tap-dancing group which practices out of the Bruelte Center once a week.
"It's never too late," says Wells, who only just started dancing when she retired. "It keeps me young, it keeps me moving and its just a lot of fun. It keeps my mind thinking with all the steps we have to learn."
Like Wells, Evans did not have any training until she was 65 years old and now she finds herself tap-dancing down the aisles of the grocery store or in her kitchen.
"It kinds of helps women say you don't have to sit home," she said about her group, adding that it gives her more energy.
The 16-member group is led by Avants who has been tap dancing for about 25 years and prior to that she was a competitive ballroom dancer.
All three ladies say they are honored for the distinction of riding on a float.
When Jan. 1 rolls around, Evans who is a member of the Silver Stars, says she will be able to check something off her bucket list -- riding on a float.
"I was so thrilled. We've been to the parade but I never thought I'd be a part of it. So, when this came up I thought 'yes, rain or shine'," she said. "It's a blessing and I'm honored to be a part of if this."
All three say they will have plenty of family members watching them along the parade route.
Raised in Pasadena, Avants is no stranger to the parade. She can still recall, as a girl, going and decorating the floats and then lining up at 5 a.m. on the south side of Orange Grove Street to be a spectator. She was selected among the trio to sit on one of the two swings at the front of the float.
"We're all really excited, especially if you see can see what we're going to wear. Oh my," she says. "Those costumes are going to be fun."
A cheerful outlook
At just 14 years old, Madison Friend has overcome Stage 2 cancer all while maintaining a positive attitude.
In June 2011, the La Mirada teen thought a bump on her shoulder was just a muscle knot but a visit to the doctor revealed she had lymphoma and it had already spread to her bone. Within a week, Madison was in surgery getting it removed. Less than a month after being diagnosed she had already started chemotherapy. The 14-year-old said her memory about that time is a little hazy, but said doctors were aggressive with the treatment to stop it and make sure it didn't spread.
"It all happened so fast I didn't have time to think about it," she said.
But in the weeks, months since her diagnosis, Madison can recalls some things: the generosity and kindness displayed by others.
"Everyone was really supportive," said Madison, who is smiling the entire time as she recounts the experience. "It showed me how amazing people are. Everyone wanted to help, even people that I didn't know."
There was a lot of people who would drop off hats and blankets. As a way to give back, she along with some friends started Madison Friend Foundation, a nonprofit that provides cancer patients with stuffed animals- particularly dutch hounds which are Madison's favorite.
She still gets chemotherapy on a monthly basis and spinal taps every three months, which does make her ill. But Madison exclaims, "other than that, I'm still pretty good."
She'll be done with her treatments in July.
Madison was actually suppose to ride on the float last year but an illness prevented her from participating. She did, however, go and see the parade.
A fan of the Dr. Seuss books - her favorites are "Green Eggs and Ham as well as Cat in the Hat," Madison she was thrilled to be brought back.
This year I knew I was going to ride the float so I was really excited, it's a great opportunity that not a lot of people get to do," she said.