IRWINDALE (CBSLA.com) — A float in Monday’s 128th Rose Parade is dedicated to the victims of the Orlando nightclub attack in June.
Three survivors of the attack as well as the owner of the Pulse nightclub will also ride on the float.
CBS2’s Joy Benedict spoke to them today in Irwindale where the float is being built.
It’s rose day Saturday when final touches are put on floats. As America’s flower is being pruned and prepped, as tour groups watch, visitors can’t help marvel at how colorful and lovely everything is.
“I love it, it’s beautiful,” said Victor Baez.
But Baez wasn’t just a tourist. Baez was there getting an even closer look at the float.
He is one of the three Pulse nightclub attack survivors who will ride on it. It’s part of this year’s AIDS Healthcare Foundation float.
“It feels good to be a voice for those who we lost,” Baez says.
Baez said he survived by hiding out in a closet for over an hour.
“I have no other way to describe it — but having an angel or something over me because how am I hiding here and things next to me are hit by bullets and here I Iam without a single scratch?,” he said.
He was grateful when the shooting stopped. The hour seemed like forever.
“I’ve never been so happy to see a police officer,” he laughs. “I can’t describe that moment because I see the door opening, it honestly felt like I took my last breath,” Baez said.
Many of his friends weren’t so lucky.
“Amanda, Mercedes, Eric…” he begins to recount the names.
And sadly the list went on.
Barbara Poma owns Pulse. She came to Pasadena with her husband and children and will also ride the float on Monday.
“We hope to really stop the hate and just spread the love,” Poma said.
The float will contain 15,000 red freedom roses — they’re going to make up the bed for 49 white stars, representing the 49 people who died that night.
To Baez those stars represent something more.
“All those faces, those, 49 faces, you recognize those. They’re family,” he said.
The group from Orlando told Benedict they’ve already seen change happen in their town and hope the float’s message will spread.
“Just to have seen any goodness coming out of what we went through it says okay, there is a silver lining,” Poma says,
Baez acknowledges he’s still trying to find the silver ling.
“We need to spread the message of love and hope and positivity and stop homophobia,” he said.
Baez said a tribute such as the float is great for all the world to see — he hopes it will spread understanding and make sure those who were lost are not forgotten.