West Virginia viewers of the annual Rose Parade on New Year’s Day morning turned on their televisions expecting to see the Mountain State’s first float in the annual Rose Parade since 1963.
A story in the Dec. 27 Gazette-Mail Life & Style section on the float quoted the company building the float as saying it was supposed to be seen on NBC’s broadcast of the parade at about 11:30 a.m. that day. But about that time, NBC — the parade’s main broadcaster — cut to a commercial.
“I’m sorry to hear that,” said Allegra Batista, with the Rose Parade. “Each broadcaster is responsible for their individual telecast.”
As it turns out, HGTV was also broadcasting the parade and a YouTube user named WVUGal93 filmed her TV screen as the West Virginia float appeared on screen. Her minute-and-a-half-long video of the float can be seen on here and on YouTube.
Officially dubbed “The WVU Children’s Miracle Float,” the float, which cost about $300,000 to build, was co-presented by the WVU Medicine Children’s and Children’s Miracle Network.
The float’s riders included young patients of the Morgantown hospital whose lives have been affected by care they received there, including 12-year-old Samantha Stalnaker, of Mt. Nebo, who was profiled in last Sunday’s story.
Despite the broadcast glitch, the Stalnaker family had a fine time at the parade, said Samantha’s father, Sam.
It was a family affair. While Samantha, who uses a wheelchair, rode in a raft on one side of the float along with her 9-year-old sister, Jadika, Samantha’s mother, Melissa, rode in a raft on the opposite side of the float.
The rafts were part of the outdoor-themed float, which also included a ski slope, two black bears with moving heads and blowing snow. Sam Stalnaker walked alongside the float during the course of the parade.
“It went great,” he said. “It was fantastic.”
Samantha and her sister loved their Rose Parade float experience, he said. “She was in the raft with her little sister and waved and smiled and had a good time.”
A couple of the youth scheduled to ride the float were sick, so they pressed into service some of the parents to ride the float, including his wife, said Stalnaker. “They needed some people to fill the seats, so they let some of the moms ride on the other side of the raft.”
Stalnaker said he had never experienced such a lively parade.
“I have never seen so much crowd participation in a parade in my life. The people were cheering and honking horns. And so many different nationalities. It’s like everybody participated in it.”
Contact Douglas Imbrogno at email@example.com, 304-348-3017 or follow @douglaseye on Twitter.