'The Middle of Beats & Blues' float will depict Springfield's Route 66 attractions
PASADENA, Calif. (WLS) -- The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Office of Tourism (Enjoy Illinois) will return for its second float appearance at the 135th Rose Parade presented by Honda on Monday, Jan. 1, 2024, in Pasadena, California, as a part of America's New Year Celebration.
To reflect the Rose Parade's theme, "Celebrating a World of Music," Enjoy Illinois will spotlight the state's music history along Route 66 with its float called, "Illinois: The Middle of Beats & Blues," a nod to the state's award-winning tourism campaign, "Middle of Everything." Parade spectators will experience a captivating live musical performance by the hit a cappella group Straight No Chaser delivering a medley from the iconic movie filmed in Illinois, "The Blues Brothers." The float will feature a replica of a drive-in movie scene, showcasing "Joliet'' Jake Blues and his brother Elwood, along with a classic 1950's car.
"We are thrilled to showcase Illinois at the 2024 Rose Parade for the second year in a row and celebrate the state's rich music history along Route 66 with our "Illinois: The Middle of Beats & Blues" float," said Daniel Thomas, Deputy Director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Office of Tourism. "From the Route 66 starting point in Chicago to Springfield and Collinsville and all the historic small towns in between, the Mother Road serves as the crossroads of cultural expression, offering unique attractions and adventures you can only experience in Illinois."
The Enjoy Illinois float recreates the iconic Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway, starting with Chicago's Route 66 "Begin" sign. The journey through the float reveals larger-than-life replicas of the Gemini Giant spaceman in Wilmington, the Pink Elephant in Livingston, and the World's Largest Catsup Bottle in Collinsville - an homage to the quirky roadside attractions along the historic route. At the front of the float, iconic Springfield landmarks, Shea's Gas Station and the Route 66 Legends Neon Sign Park Experience, offer a glimpse into Route 66 landmarks around the state's capital.
The 24-foot-tall float took three months to build with the help of nearly 22,000 volunteer hours and will feature 30,000 flowers. The Enjoy Illinois float will incorporate many elements to spotlight Illinois' agritourism industry, including pumpkins, corn, soybeans, lavender, sunflowers, prairie grass and blue violets, the state's official flower.
"The Tournament of Roses is thrilled to see Straight No Chaser's performance on the Enjoy Illinois float during the 2024 Rose Parade, marking the second consecutive year of Enjoy Illinois' participation," said 2024 Tournament of Roses President Alex Aghajanian. "Straight No Chaser's a cappella brilliance will grace the float harmonizing with the theme 'Celebrating a World of Music,' to showcase Illinois' rich musical heritage. The group's unforgettable musical experience will be an incredible addition to the festivities and bring us all together to celebrate the vibrant spirit of Illinois."
"We are so proud and beyond excited to be performing on the Enjoy Illinois float in the 2024 Rose Parade," said Straight No Chaser member Randy Stine, who was born and raised in Illinois. "Like so many people around the country, we grew up watching the parade every New Year's Day. What a dream come true it is to be a part of such an iconic event."