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Flower power: Colusa native's star is rising at Rose Parade
When the Dole Packaged Foods float won the Sweepstakes Trophy in the Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year's — the most prestigious honor bestowed upon the parade's entries — it marked the fourth time in as many years that it did so.
It also marked the fourth year that Philip Rice — who was born and raised in Colusa and worked at Jaki's Garden in town from 1997 until it closed in May of 2009 — was the lead floral designer for the Dole float.
Rice said that the Tournament of Roses Parade is a fun project to which he looks forward every year.
"It takes thousands and thousands of volunteers and hours to create something like that. The detail is so extreme that the television cameras cannot pick up what it is like to experience in person. That's one thing I've noticed every year, coming home and watching it on DVR. You don't capture nearly how spectacular it is when you're on it in person," Rice said.
Rice said that his work begins after a client signs a contract with Fiesta Parade Floats, the company for which he works.
"At that point, a design idea and/or rendering is completed. Then, I'm brought in to consult on how to bring it to life with flowers and organic material. I make several trips down there during the year to discuss and plan," Rice said.
Then, in the days spanning Christmas Day and New Year's Eve, the real work happens.
"We spend pretty much around-the-clock there doing all of the actual decorating, which is done by teams of volunteers and floral designers like myself," Rice said.
Rice was named designer of the year by the California State Floral Association in 2008-09 and was inducted into the American Institute of Floral Design in 2012 for his independent work.