Local students to ride on Glendale's float

Three years ago, Angela Sanchez was living in a homeless shelter with her father, laboring over classwork and college applications while trying to keep her circumstances secret from teachers at Hoover High School.

On Monday, Sanchez, now 20 and studying history at UCLA, will join seven other local student leaders in representing Glendale to the world by riding on the city’s float through Pasadena in the 123rd Rose Parade.

“Getting to see all the color and festivity, it is something you look forward to every year,” Sanchez said. “So getting to actually participate is mind-blowing.”

The float’s student contingent includes current Glendale Unified high school students Talia Avedisian, Lindsey Lam, Rima Sahakyan, Brionna Ventura, Elissa Arnold and Joy McCreary, said Ross Phares, community services manager with the city.

Each of the students was nominated by staff members at their respective schools, and each is active in student government, he said.

Sanchez and fellow float rider Brandon Ruvalcaba, a 2011 Sylmar High School graduate, were selected to participate as past recipients of The Spirit of American Youth Scholarship. The annual gift is awarded by Caruso Affiliated, which owns the Americana at Brand, to exceptional high school seniors.

“They are just both incredible young leaders and incredible students,” said Kellee Everts, vice-president of learning and organization development at Caruso Affiliated.

The commercial real estate firm this year contributed $25,000 to the roughly $130,000 total cost for the construction and management of the Glendale float. The donation spurred other private donations that kept the tradition alive at a time when city officials discussed scrapping it amid an $18-million budget deficit.

The live audience for the parade typically tops 700,000 people, according to the Tournament of Roses website, while the television audience stretches into the tens of millions.

Ruvalcaba, who did not grow up watching the parade, said he is ready to enjoy one of the best views on the 5 1/2-mile route.

“I started to research more about it,” Ruvalcaba said. “I began to get more excited and I told my family about it and they got more excited about it too. It was something that I couldn’t believe because it is international television and it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

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