Donna Liptak and Michelle Eisenberg live on opposite U.S. coasts. But when New Year’s Day rolls around, they’re always doing the same thing at the same time: watching the Rose Parade® in Pasadena, California. For both Wells Fargo team members, enjoying the parade is a holiday must-do.
The 127th Rose Parade Jan. 1, 2016, is expected to attract roughly 54.8 million TV viewers in the U.S. and 25 million internationally. It also marks Wells Fargo’s 10th anniversary as one of the parade’s corporate sponsors. The parade will feature 44 floats, 19 equestrian units, 20 marching bands — and three Wells Fargo stagecoaches.
(Note: To watch, check the Rose Parade’s list of broadcast partners and your local listings.)
“I can remember watching the Rose Parade as a child with my parents and siblings,” says Donna, a Wells Fargo operations manager in North Brunswick, New Jersey. “We’ve been around horses and horse racing all our lives. That tradition has followed me through adulthood as my husband, boys, and I watch every year.”
Michelle, a learning and development consultant for Wells Fargo’s Wholesale Banking group in Ontario, California, grew up watching the parade with her stepfather. “He passed away a few years ago, and I think about him as I watch every year,” she says.
Last year, Michelle was in Pasadena watching in person. This year, she will have a role in the parade by decorating a float to help Wells Fargo show its support of the New Directions Veterans Choir and spotlight veteran issues in the U.S.
Two of the three Wells Fargo stagecoaches in the parade will carry the Warriors to Summits team, which climbed Gannett Peak in Wyoming, and members of Wells Fargo’s Veterans Team Member Network.
The third stagecoach and the Wells Fargo float decorated by Michelle and other volunteers will feature the New Directions for Veterans choir, part of a nonprofit that provides food, shelter, support, and rehabilitation services to more than 1,000 veterans each year through three transitional housing treatment centers.
“I’ve always wanted to decorate a float and am so excited to be doing this,” Michelle says. “Attending the Rose Parade really is one of those ‘bucket list’ items on a lot of people’s lists, and why the 700,000 people along the parade route come from all over.”
A ‘national call to action’
At a Nov. 10 news conference introducing New Directions and its parade role, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said that although the city and its community allies had cut the number of homeless veterans in half in recent years, more than 2,000 still live on the streets. “This is unacceptable,” he said.
The National Coalition for the Homeless estimates that there are between 130,000 and 200,000 homeless veterans in the U.S. on any given night.
David DiCristofaro, Wells Fargo’s lead regional president for Greater Los Angeles, says those statistics and Wells Fargo’s three-prong approach to supporting veterans through housing, financial education, and career placement are what prompted Wells Fargo to make New Directions part of its 2016 Rose Parade plans.
“This is really a national call to action to solve the problem of veteran homelessness, and I can’t think of a better organization than New Directions,” David says. We have supported the nonprofit with $300,000 and through teaching free financial literacy classes to veterans over the past four years.”
New Directions performed at the news conference and has been sharing its story through surprise caroling visits across the city.
“Singing for the Rose Parade and opportunities like this are huge for us,” says New Directions member Michelle Mayne-Graves. “It allows the program to get a lot of exposure, and that means many more people will get help.”
Rose parade tradition
While the Jan. 1, 2016, Rose Parade will mark Wells Fargo’s 10th year as a corporate sponsor (the parade began in 1890 and added corporate sponsors with the 2007 parade), the company traces its contemporary Rose Parade history to 1976 and its first award-winning float — a floral stagecoach entry called “The City Greets the Arrival of the Overland Stage.”
But the trademark of Wells Fargo’s Rose Parade history still remains the company’s stagecoaches traveling side-by-side down the parade’s 5.5-mile route. Lovester Law, head of Wells Fargo’s Stagecoach Appearance Program, says those equestrian entries began in 2006. They’re a family affair courtesy of The Lane Ranch of Lancaster, California, owned by George and Charlene Lane.
This year, George will drive the stagecoach featured in the closing ceremony with New Directions, while Charlene and their son, Justin, will drive one of the two stagecoaches traveling earlier in the parade. Tad Griffiths from the ranch will drive the other stagecoach.
“When New Year’s Day is over, our stagecoaches will have appeared at 34 holiday parades, but the Rose Parade is the grandest of them all and continues to be a proud moment for Wells Fargo and The Lane Ranch,” Lovester says.