HomeBad Ass AsiansMan Behind Float that Caught Fire in Rose Parade Speaks Out

Man Behind Float that Caught Fire in Rose Parade Speaks Out

Wilson Lee
Wilson Lee Via Facebook Chinese American Heritage Foundation

A small fire that derailed a float in the Rose Parade honoring Chinese American Transcontinental Railroad Workers has not dampened the enthusiasm of its organizers.

Wilson Lee spoke about the mishap with the Pasadena Star News.

“If the float endured a little mishap, so be it,” he said. “It pales in comparison to the hardships that our ancestors endured 150 years ago to make the railroad complete. Think about it — the difficulty in building the Transcontinental Railroad across the Sierra Nevada mountains, across valleys, across deserts, that’s the hardship.”

Wilson, along with his wife Esther, founded the Chinese American Heritage Foundation in Boston.

“We are so thankful that no one was injured due to this unfortunate malfunction. We’ll come back from this as our message of Harmony Through Union strongly resonates with everyone who’s seen our Float! said Esther in a statement the Foundation released on Facebook. “Our heartfelt appreciation to the Tournament of Roses, the millions who watched today’s Parade, and the hundreds of local volunteers who spent countless hours decorating our float with dedication, patience, and love.”

Rose Parade Chinese American Float 2019

Both thanked Fiesta Parade Floats and the countless volunteers who built it. Fiesta Parade Floats told the Pasadena Star News that transmission fluid dripped onto a hot exhaust pipe, igniting a small flame. Everyone on board quickly evacuated and the flames were extinguished. Fiesta could be fined up to $80,000 for the mishap.

“It’s not just a float — it’s really a symbol of what America is about,” Wilson Lee said. “America is built by immigrants, and that is something we’ll continue to celebrate.”

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  1. RE: Man behind Float that Caught Fire in Rose Parade Speaks Out: Sorry about the mishap but It still doesn’t make sense how transmission fluid hit exhaust pipe? It should not be hot enough to cause flame! What actually caught on fire? Was the driver smoking? I’m just curious.

    I’m glad no one was hurt!


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