Rose Parade

Sophia Rivas poses with her family after helping to build the Donate Life float for Monday's Rose Parade. Rivas and her family helped with the float in honor of Gabriel Martinez, who died suddenly earlier this year. 

The Donate Life float with local ties in this year's annual Rose Parade won the "Most outstanding presentation of the Rose Parade Theme" award, the parade committee announced Monday.

The float, which had a tropical Aztec theme, recognized donors who have helped save others' lives. One of the donors honored was Bakersfield's Gabriel Martinez, who died in a car accident last March at 44.

Martinez was an organ, eye and tissue donor, and his body parts helped six people, The Californian's Joseph Luiz reported last week.

Sophia Rivas, Martinez's niece, said that after Martinez's death her family received letters from people throughout California who had benefited from Martinez’s donations and wanted to express their gratitude. Prior to receiving Martinez's donation, one of the recipients had been on a waiting list for a transplant for years.

The Donate Life float was one of 40 in this year’s parade. Roughly 20 marching bands and 20 equestrian units partook in the parade as well. Twenty-four floated received awards, the parade said online.

Scores are based on creative design, floral craftsmanship, artistic merit, computerized animation, thematic interpretation, floral and color presentation and dramatic impact.

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