Little Izzy’s face lit up early Thursday as City officials, residents and float riders sang “Happy Birthday” to the 2-year-old who received cake and a fluffy stuffed animal to the delight and surprise of her mom, Olympian Julie Foudy.
The celebration on New Year’s Day took place just hours before Izzy (Isabel) and her baby brother watched their mom wave to adoring fans as she traveled on the City of Mission Viejo’s “Making a Splash” float in the 120th Tournament of Roses Parade.
Foudy a silver and two-time Olympic gold medalist in soccer joined Olympians Greg Louganis; Brian Goodell; and Chloe Sutton on the flower-bedecked float along with residents and members of the Mission Viejo Nadadores who spent the morning diving, somersaulting and cannon-balling into roughly 10 tons of “heated” water as the glorious City float made its way down the 5 ½-mile parade route.
The City’s float won the Judges Special Award for “Most Spectacular in Showmanship and Dramatic Impact.”
In the stands high above the parade route, the City’s float certainly made an impact – as “ooohs and aaahs” roared from the large crowd to the sight of the Nadadores splashing into the pool, which represented the City’s iconic Lake Mission Viejo.
“Wow mom look at the people jumping in the water,” said Kayden Phillips, 8, of Costa Mesa. “That is the neatest thing ever … why don’t we have one of those?”
Several others agreed with Phillips – complimenting the float’s impressive design and formation that took about 13,000 hours of volunteer time to construct. But the admiration for the City’s float extended far beyond its unique design. The float was designed to build and embrace community and was a celebration of the City’s heritage, history and future.
“It is the greatest thing to happen … best advertisement we can get worldwide,” said longtime community volunteer Mark “Ziggy” Wilczynski, who rode on the float. “I am very proud to be a part of the camaraderie, friendship and pride that this float represents.”
Greg Louganis, who is known as the “world’s greatest diver” spent the early days of his illustrious diving career training with the Mission Viejo Nadadores. With his dog Nipper in tow, Louganis said he was honored to take part in creating history in the town he loves.
“I am really excited to be here,” he said. “I think this is a wonderful thing for the community.”
Foudy, who graduated from Mission Viejo High School in 1989 and was proclaimed the City’s “Home Town Hero” seven years later could not contain her excitement before, during and after the parade.
“I am proud and very honored to represent the City of Mission Viejo,” she said.