Someone You Should Know: Road to the Rose Parade

BALTIC, S.D. – Darren Hefty is no stranger to television. You may recognize this media man from Ag PhD, a radio and television company broadcasting from small-town Baltic, South Dakota for the past 20 years.

Now, this Baltic company is taking center-stage for the biggest audience they’ve ever had: the Rose Parade.

”It’s a pretty cool opportunity for people all over the world to see us,” said Hefty. “I mean, who gets more coverage than the Rose Bowl and the Rose Parade? It’s pretty fantastic. I think it’s an opportunity for farmers to get in front of a lot of people who don’t think about who’s producing their food on a daily basis.”

The parade’s theme this year is “Making a Difference.”

“And who makes more of a difference than farmers?” said Hefty.

The float is a salute to farmers, representing the many faces of family farmers that supply our food. 100 diverse farmers of different genders and ages will ride this float., and they’re here to debunk stereotypes.

”We know that some consumers look at farmers as ‘well, they’re probably undereducated and they’re probably living in tough environments’ and this and that’s not the case,” said Hefty.

The family-friendly float features seeds from all 50 states. The Tournament of Roses spends all year prepping for New Year’s Day.

”Just like building a house, you may not be the one with the hammer and the nail, but there are a lot of decisions that have to be made along the way so yeah, it is a lot of work,” said Hefty.

Hefty rode in the Rose Parade eight years ago, but this will be the first year that Ag PhD’s sporting their own float. With only 18 commercial floats, it’s a once a lifetime opportunity from Baltic to Pasadena, California to the world.  

”Being involved with the Rose Parade is definitely a bucket list kind of thing,” said Hefty. “It’s one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences that maybe you didn’t know that you wanted growing up but once you see it out there you say ‘wow, that would be so cool.’ So yeah, it’s definitely one of those things I’ll remember forever.”

It takes over 20 million flowers, 5,000 gallons of glue, 600 tons of steel, and over 200,000 combined volunteer hours to pull off the Tournament of Roses Parade every year. The Rose Parade airs right here on KDLT on Monday, New Year’s Day.