It’s a New Year’s Day tradition for millions – watching the Rose Parade and the Rose Bowl Game. And each year a million or more from all around the world converge in Pasadena to see one or both, up close and personal.
When watching the parade this year, South Valley residents will want to pay close attention and watch for the California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) float – where they may just see some familiar faces. Local dairymen, Joe, Joey and Joseph Airoso, and brothers Mario and Joe Simoes were chosen to appear on the float.
This year’s parade theme is “Echoes of Success.” The CMAB chose “Legacy of Generations” as its float theme, and 11 individuals from five long-time California dairy families will ride on the float, representing the 1,300 dairy families within the state.
“It’s an honor,” Mario Simoes said of being chosen.
The Simoes are 81-year-old twins, having immigrated to the US from the island of Terceira in the Azores, at the age of 15. They are the eldest of 13 siblings. Their father had worked in the dairy industry in the Azores, and moved the family the US to do the same, hopefully on a larger scale.
“We’ve been twins for 81 years,” Joe Simoes said. “I think it’s an honor – they don’t invite everybody [to be involved in the Rose Parade].”
The fact that the Simoes are twins, and have been in the dairy industry all of their lives lead the brothers to their being chosen. Joe’s son, Joey, is carrying on the family legacy, as are some of Mario’s children.
Similarly, Joey Airoso’s great grandfather, Charles, moved from the same island in the Azores to the San Joaquin Valley in 1912. Joey Airoso is proud to continue the legacy with his parents and his children. Airoso’s father, Joe, is unable to attend the parade due to recent ear surgery. However, Joseph, Airoso’s son, is participating as he does in the family business.
This is the second year the CMAB is participating in the parade with a float. The decision, made by the organization’s board, is good for marketing, Airoso said.
“We’ve got to show people from the urban areas what we are doing, and get our message out more,” he said. “It’s a way to get the seal out more.”
Real California Milk Seal
The CMAB seal, which represents “Real California Milk,” is highly important to the industry and California dairymen. It is important for Californians to think California milk and milk products first and appears on products made of California milk.
“There’s a cow milked in each of the 50 states,” Airoso said.
However, California milk and dairy products are shipped to many states, as well as countries around the world, while being produced in the most highly regulated state, he said.
But, “any time you advertise any dairy product, it’s a benefit,” he said.
“The seal,” Airoso said, indicates the product “was made in California, under the stiffest regulations of any in the country. Our creamery, Land ‘O Lakes, procures the highest quality milk – anywhere.
“This state ships milk, everywhere. There’s not a place with cleaner milk.”
To Mario Simoes, the seal means, “it is the real stuff,” he said. “It’s not made out of almonds [or anything else],” not that he has anything against almonds, he added.
Joe Simoes said he feels the same way.
In speaking with the Simoes and Joey Airoso, there is little doubt that they think highly of dairy cows as an animal species.
“There is no better animal than a cow,” Mario Simoes said. “They are the hardest working animal around.”
Well, that and the people who own and run dairies, perhaps.
“Anybody who survives [in the dairy industry] this long has made a lot of sacrifices,” Mario Simoes said.
“Taking care of the herd takes 24-hours a day,” Joe Simoes said.
The Simoes operate dairies in Tulare and Tipton, now with their children. They worked together for more than 25 years and then, independently built up their own, individual dairies. They and their extended families now operate dairies with a total of some 10,000 cows.
Joey Airoso’s Pixley dairy operates with more than 2,000 milking cows on the same land that his great grandfather worked more than 100 years ago. Now being operated by the 4th and 5th generations in California, he has concerns about the future of the dairy industry in the state, although this is the best state, weather-wise, to operate a dairy, he said.
“The health of the herd is as good as always,” he said.
However, the regulations are of major concern, and the cost of those regulations. Then there are the animal rights protestors – they don’t want you to consume anything that comes from an animal, he said. Airoso questions the ability for California dairyman to operate in 20 or 40 years from now.
The CMAB Float
Joining the Simoes’ and Airoso’s on the CMAB float will be dairy family members from Petaluma, Lakeview and Nuevo.
“People are increasingly conscious of where the food they feed their families comes from. It begins here in California where real families for generations have successfully produced real wholesome, nutritious milk kissed by the California sun and served around the world in the cheese, butter, yogurt and ice cream we all love,” said John Talbot, CEO of the CMAB.
The five dairy farm families on the float will ride alongside a life-size animated Holstein cow and floral depictions of products that have made California the No. 1 dairy state. The float will also utilize natural décor materials, including food and fiber co-products such as cotton seed and almond hulls, reflecting some of the many sustainable on-farm practices dairy producers implement each day, according to the CMAB.
This year, the 128th Annual Rose Parade and 103rd Bowl Game will take place on Monday, January 2, as history has not allowed the parade or game to ever take place on a Sunday. The parade begins at 8am and will be aired on many local and cable television stations.