MOMENTOUS OCCASION – Dale and Kimberly Oldis of Shelter Bay pose with some of the mementos they returned with after attending the Tournament of Roses Parade and Rose Bowl Game in Pasadena on New Year’s Day. Kim is holding a beautiful inscribed silver vase she received for having judged floats entered in the parade. The elaborate, floral-decorated floats were viewed by hundreds of thousands of spectators and a television audience estimated at more than 40 million people. – Photo courtesy of Bill Reynolds
Kimberly Oldis rooted hard for the University of Washington football team from one of the best seats available at the storied Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day. The underdog Huskies came up just short in a frantic fourth quarter comeback bid against Ohio State, the only time Oldis didn’t pick a winner during her time in Pasadena. The Shelter Bay resident, a nationally renowned floral designer, was one of three persons selected to judge the 40 floats entered in the annual Tournament of Roses Parade, the majestic prelude to the Rose Bowl Game. It was an experience she’ll never forget. “From the minute we got our luggage to the minute we left,” said Oldis, who was accompanied by her husband, Dale, a retired high school teacher and coach, “the Tournament of Roses Committee took care of us beyond our wildest expectations. “I definitely felt like a rock star,” she said. Oldis was chosen for the honor based on a successful career that bloomed as a result of studying ornamental horticulture at the College of DuPage, near Chicago. She went on to own and operate a floral shop that was a popular community hub in the Chicago suburb of Glen Ellyn. Oldis also managed to juggle her schedule so she could teach advanced floral design at her nearby alma mater. Over time she became affiliated with the American Institute of Floral Designers (AIFD), rising to become the organization’s volunteer leader, and Charisma Floats, which for a quarter-century produced elaborately designed, flower-adorned floats for the Tournament of Roses Parade.During that period Oldis also designed floral arrangements for the 2005 presidential inauguration and joined the Academy Awards floral design team. She and Dale would eventually put down roots locally, joining other family members in the Pacific Northwest. “We knew we wanted to be here,” she said. “We wanted a boating lifestyle.” They ventured to the Caribbean and lived aboard their boat for over two years before Dale designed and helped build their present home in Shelter Bay – which, as one might expect, is graced daily by fresh flowers. Four years ago Oldis designed floral arrangements at the White House. Then, last March, came the phone call asking Oldis to judge Rose Parade floats alongside Michael E. Berry and Preston Bailey. “When they called,” said Oldis, “I about fell off my chair.” In addition to her career achievements, Oldis was tabbed due to her long-held commitment to public service, since volunteerism is an integral part of the Tournament of Roses. Judges serve on a one-time only basis, making their selection all the more special.
“It’s a one-and-done deal,” said Oldis, who built an immediate rapport with the other two judges. They shared what Oldis said was an incredible experience that bears great responsibility. “The reverence paid to the judging process is enormous,” Oldis said. The trio of judges was given five minutes to judge each float, recording scores based on creative design, floral craftsmanship, artistic merit, computerized animation, thematic interpretation, floral and color presentation and dramatic impact. They reviewed each float during judging sessions that took place during decorating stages before the parade. Two dozen floats received official honors. “The precision that goes into these floats is amazing,” said Oldis. “There’s a great deal of respect that goes into the commitment and tradition of building these floats.” The story goes that in 1890 members of Pasadena’s Valley Hunt Club and former residents of the east and midwest sought to exhibit southern California’s winter weather, when flowers often bloom, leading to creation of the first Tournament of Roses. About 2,000 people turned out that New Year’s Day to view carriages garnished in flowers, a procession preceded by foot races, polo matches and tug-of-war matches. In 1902 a football game was added to the mix. And the rest, as they say, is history. This year’s Tournament of Roses Parade drew hundreds of thousands of spectators and was viewed on television by more than 40 million people. Oldis and her fellow judges bestowed the 2019 Sweepstakes Award upon the UPS Store float, citing it as the most beautiful entry, encompassing float design, floral presentation and entertainment value. The Donate Life float, whose theme was “Rhythm of the Heart,” received the Judges Award for most outstanding float design and dramatic impact. Dale Oldis said living donors and transplant recipients rode in or walked alongside the float, which was an obvious crowd favorite. As part of their nearly week-long stay in Pasadena, judges met with the Tournament of Roses Queen and her Court, and were themselves treated like royalty. “We had amazing seats for the parade,” Oldis said, “and even better ones for the game. “It was,” she stressed, “definitely the time of my life.”