Ever industrious CHS junior marches in Rose Parade
by Steven Felschundneff | firstname.lastname@example.org
On New Year’s Day, Paige Morales loves to watch the Rose Parade with her family, but this year offered a bit of a twist, as her family watched Paige in the Rose Parade.
The 16-year-old Claremont High School junior was one of 50 Southern California boy and girl scouts selected to carry the trophy banners announcing prize-winning floats during the famous 5.5-mile pageant down Pasadena’s Colorado Boulevard. She was also asked to participate in the flag raising ceremony at Tournament House, just before the parade.
“It was seriously such a surreal experience,” Paige said. “It was a great way to meet such amazing people and it was such an honor to be surrounded by such hard working girls, who had amazing accomplishments.”
Paige’s day started when the scouts gathered at 3 a.m. in Arcadia for orientation. From there they traveled to Tournament House for breakfast, and the flag ceremony at 6:30. She was honored with the role of commanding the color guard, calling out instructions to the other scouts as the American flag was hoisted aloft.
During the parade Paige held one end of the banner announcing the winner of the Princess Trophy, which this year was bestowed on the City of Torrance for its float “The Lyrical Call of Nature.”
“Being in the actual parade itself was super amazing,” she said. “There are thousands of people, and the first big turn was the one with all the news cameras. I would just say ‘Happy new year’ and hundreds of people would respond back.”
When they reached the end of the parade route the Tournament of Roses arranged for everyone to have free In-N-Out burgers. It’s also a tradition that participants exchange decorative pins as a parting gesture once the parade ends.
“We actually traded pins with people across the globe. I got a pin from Japan, one from Hawaii,” Paige said. “Different places like that.”
She also got a pin from a member of the University of Alabama band. The Crimson Tide football team lost a heartbreaker to the Michigan Wolverines, 27-20, at the Rose Bowl game later in the day.
Paige qualified for the honor of marching in the parade because she recently completed her Gold Award, which is the highest honor in Girl Scouts, similar to the Eagle Scout rank in Boy Scouts. After completing the award, she was invited by Girl Scout officials to apply for the coveted spots in the parade.
Paige’s Gold Award project involved building a curriculum based on STEAM — science, technology, engineering, arts, and math — and then sharing her knowledge with other scouts. She created booths for each of the disciplines in STEAM and held two educational camps at Claremont’s La Casita Girl Scout facility.
Just three girls earned the Gold Award last year in Claremont’s troop 15174.
If the name Paige Morales seems familiar, that’s likely because she was featured in the Courier two years ago after saving a woman’s life.
During a scuba diving trip to Catalina Island in September 2021, Paige and her dive partner Tara Robinson noticed another diver was underwater in an inverted prone position and was beginning to panic. As Robinson tried to alert the dive boat crew, Paige swam over to the woman and got her to the surface, where she was rescued.
For her heroic lifesaving effort, Paige was awarded the Bronze Cross from the Girl Scouts of America, and the local troop held a surprise party in her honor at La Casita.
“It was truly an amazing way for me to feel the support and love from my community and a great recognition that I am super thankful for,” Paige said about the surprise party.
Last summer Paige went on her first night dive where she basked in the widely reported bioluminescent event.
“We had this drill where we would turn off our flashlights and it was pitch black in the water,” Paige said. “We were able to move our arms and the bioluminescence was just surrounding us. You would see the trails of the little blue lights follow you as you moved. It was so cool.”
The ever industrious Paige is definitely not resting. She is captain of the CHS dance team, yearbook staff manger, and a member of the swim team. She also volunteers at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, where she has earned the certification that allows her to enter the tank with sharks.
“This girl is always on the go-go-go, very motivated and focused,” her mother Nicole Morales said. “Now I think she is going to be focused on college applications.”
Her field of study in college has long been established.
“Since I was 3 I have wanted to be a marine biologist,” Paige said.