From Space to Oz ... The Walheim Rose

December 31, 2008 9:52:19 PM PST
The New Year's parade of rose-covered floats is a can't-miss tradition for thousands here in the Valley. But this year, those of you watching the tournament of roses, may want to keep your eye out for one very special rose.When the Wizard of Oz gang makes its way down Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena ... Their float will be carrying a rose unlike any other in the entire parade.

"I picked it myself at Wrigley mansion, which is the headquarters of the Tournament of Roses"

That rose, picked by Exeter citrus grower and horticulturalist Lance Walheim ended up in outer space.

Walheim's brother ... NASA Astronaut Rex Walheim took the rose with him aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis last July.

Lance Walheim said, "On his first mission he took my dad's world war two pilot wings with him and everybody has always kidded with me, 'Why don't you have Rex take up a rose' I was-- I don't know how that's going to work out."

But where there's a will, there's a way. The rose was dried and enclosed in a glass box ...

"So as you can see, we're floating up at zero G and it survived the ascent very well ... "

Lance who works as a rose expert with Bayer Advanced, had planned from the beginning to include the rose in the company's float ... But the brothers initially decided not to publicize the event, just in case the rose didn't make it back.

Rex said, "When I got to orbit I floated up to the locker and I peeked inside to see what I'd see, and sure enough it came out unscathed from the violent launch and it survived re-entry and it looks perfect." Lance: "He was expecting rose dust-- yeah ... ha, ha, ha ... "

After some space-walking ... And helping install a laboratory module on the International Space Station-- Rex even posed for pictures with the rose, while enduring some good-natured jabbing from crew members.

Rex said, "We took a lot of pictures in space with some of the stuff we brought along ? and I got the rose and said this picture has got to come out."

After 5.3 million miles, and circling the earth 200 times ... The travelling rose is now ready for one more trip down the parade route, in the hands of Glenda, the good witch. The Walheim brothers will be proudly watching.

Rex said, "It turned on to be a really neat way to join our careers. Who would've of thought that when I was a kid and he was picking on me as my big brother, that we'd get to do something like this some day." Lance said, "He actually didn't want to do it-- I had to twist his arm. Big brothers can get little brothers to do anything."

The rose will be on the Bayer Advanced "Garden of Oz" float. According to Walheim, it's the 79th float in the parade ... So you should be able to see it at about 9:30am.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


abc30 News Links:
Links to other news sections on our website.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Breaking News Alerts:
Click Here to Sign-Up for Breaking News E-Mail Alerts
Receive Breaking News alerts in your email inbox.


Click Here to Sign-Up for Text Message Alerts
Receive Breaking News alerts right on your cell phone.


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Load Comments