Millions of people around the world turned on their televisions on New Year’s Day to a find a nurse welcoming them to the new year and a float honoring nurses in one of the world’s most famous parades.
Sally Bixby, RN, MS, CNOR, became the first nurse—and the second woman—in history to serve as president of the Tournament of Roses, a century-old celebration of flowers and football that takes place in California on the first day of every year. Bixby’s presidency inspired area nurses to create a float to thank nurses for the work they do, educate the public about the role of nurses in health and health care, and encourage more people to join the profession. They plan to provide nursing scholarships with funds they raised beyond what was needed to support the float.
“When we decided to build a float to honor Sally, we realized that we also wanted to honor nurses everywhere,” said Monica Weisbrich, RN, president of a nonprofit organization that raised money to pay for the float. “Nurses really are the unsung heroes of health care and healing.”
Bixby, who appeared in the parade riding a 1940’s era glamour car with her husband, and the nurse-themed float drew considerable attention to the often-overlooked profession. Every year, 70 million viewers from 200 countries tune in to watch the Rose Parade, according to a statement released by the organization funding the float. The parade is the third most watched television event in the country.
A native of Pasadena, Bixby was recently director of surgical services at the City of Hope National Medical Center and Beckman Research Institute in Duarte, Calif., and has been a volunteer member of the Tournament of Roses since 1989. The nurses float—called “A Healing Place”—featured words inscribed on its base such as caring, commitment, compassion, confidence, conscientiousness, and intelligence. Ten nurses representing diverse backgrounds and disciplines rode the float through its parade route.
“Our riders represent the current excellence in our field and future of the profession, and it provides a small look into the vast opportunities that nursing offers,” Weisbrich said.