Despite moving to Apple Valley after his 18th birthday, Roy Rogers Jr. still has fond memories of Chatsworth where Western stars Roy Rogers and Dale Evans were long-time community members.
"That's where I spent all of my formidable years," he said. "I loved all the orange groves, citrus trees and eucalyptus trees."
The son of Roy Rogers, the "King of the Cowboys," spent the last day of 2011 prepping the 2012 RFD-TV Rose Parade Float entitled, "Happy Trails" with his son, Dustin Rogers. The 75-foot-long float celebrates what would have been his father's 100th birthday. (Click here to see a time-lapse video of the float under construction.)
Roy Rogers was a cowboy star at Republic Pictures and had a long-running television series from 1951 to 1957, with an announcer who would intone: "The Roy Rogers Show, starring Roy Rogers, King of the Cowboys; Trigger, his golden palomino; and Dale Evans, Queen of the West; with Pat Brady, his comical sidekick; and Roy's wonder dog, Bullet."
"Dad never made it to 100, but he is looking down on this float with a smile," said Rogers Jr. "He would especially love the 100 golden palominos that will lead the way for this float." Roy’s son and grandsons will be aboard the float singing “Happy Trails.”
Rogers Jr. relocated to Branson, MO, but has made the trip down to Pasadena several times for the Tournament of Roses Parade.
"I rode in the parade 10 years ago," said Rogers Jr. "I'm excited to be here again for such a special occasion. This float celebrates everything that was near and dear to my dad's heart."
While he hasn't visited Chatsworth recently, the l alum noted that he hadn't been to the town since the train station was rebuilt.
"We do hope to get down there again one day," said Rogers Jr. "But right now, we're very busy in Branson."
Rogers Jr. was especially moved by his father's special companions, Trigger the Golden Palomino and Bullet the Wonder Dog. Their stuffed and mounted figures guard the float's entrance.
"I'll do whatever they want us to do, but those two animals have a special place in my heart," said Rogers Jr. "They sure look wonderful on this float."
Volunteers are expected to work well into the night to finish construction on the float, which will be decorated with more than 11,000 roses, 5,000 gerberas and 500 carnations.
Catch Rogers Jr. and his sons Dusty and Dustin Rogers sing "Happy Trails" on the 2012 Tournament of Roses telecast on Monday, Jan. 2.