Raul R. Rodriguez, Famed Float Designer for the Tournament of Roses Parade, Dies at 71

Raul Rodriguez - H 2015
Courtesy of DC Publicity

Raul Rodriguez - H 2015

He started out at the event as a 15-year-old and made his last appearance at the annual Jan. 1 extravaganza in 2013.

Raul R. Rodriguez, an artist and designer best known for his breathtaking floats seen for years at the Tournament of Roses Parade, died Wednesday of cardiac arrest at his home in Pasadena, publicist Harlan Boll announced. He was 71.

Rodriguez won more Tournament of Roses awards than any other designer in the 125-year-plus history of the splashy Pasadena event, Boll said. He presented his 500th design in 2012, and his last parade appearance came Jan. 1, 2013, when he and his hyacinth macaw, Sebastian, rode the Dole float.

See more Hollywood's Notable Deaths of 2015

At age 15, Rodriguez, a third-generation native of Los Angeles, created his first Rose Parade float design, done for the city of Whittier, Calif.

Rodriguez worked with the Walt Disney Co. — crafting floats for Disneyland’s 50th anniversary Parade of Dreams in 2005 — and designed Six Flags’ nighttime electric parade, Glow in the Park. He also did projects for Universal Studios, Landmark Entertainment and Radio City Music Hall.

In 1984, Rodriguez served as a consultant to the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles and designed the opening stage set for the World's Fair in New Orleans. His work has been used for The Flamingo Hilton, Tropicana and Caesars Palace in Las Vegas,

A classically trained artist in drawing and painting, Rodriguez studied at the Art Center School of Design and attended Cerritos College and California State University Long Beach. He went on to illustrate several children’s books.

Rodriguez was part of the team that won an Emmy for coverage of the 2001 Tournament of Roses Parade on Univision, and he received the prestigious Arthur Nobel Award from the City of Pasadena.

Survivors include his spouse Robert Cash, sisters Irene and Teresa and a number of aunts, nieces, nephews and cousins.

A service will be held March 7 at 10 a.m. at St. Andrew Catholic Church in Pasadena. Burial services will be private.  

Twitter: @mikebarnes4