Honda's Rose Parade float, a 49-foot robot replica, will be unveiled during the annual Tournament of Roses Parade on Jan. 1 in Pasadena, Calif.

Honda's Rose Parade float, a 49-foot robot replica, will be unveiled during the annual Tournament of Roses Parade on Jan. 1 in Pasadena, Calif.

The replica of Honda's ASIMO humanoid robot will be joined by the parade's first hydrogen-powered fuel-cell pace car, the Honda FCX Clarity, which will lead the 120th Rose Parade as well as kick off Honda's 50th anniversary of U.S. operations.

Honda's float will evolve from an opening ceremony stage into an animated replica of Honda's ASIMO (Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility), standing about 12 times the height of the actual ASIMO humanoid robot.

Honda's float creation, called "Hats Off in Celebration," will be completed with natural materials like lettuce seed, rice, carnations and strawflower. The float will be accompanied by the Prairie View A&M University marching band, a past participant in the Honda Battle of the Bands, which features the music programs of historically black colleges and universities. A few members of the band will ride on the float. In addition, during the parade the FCX Clarity pace car will be accompanied by the Honda Super Cub motorcycle, the first model sold in the United States.

"Honda always brings a great amount of innovation to the Rose Parade and what a fantastic way for the company to kick off their 50th anniversary in the U.S.," said Bill Flinn, Tournament of Roses chief operating officer.

The Honda float includes a variety of flowers, plants and seeds that will later be ground up for mulch after the parade. The surface of ASIMO will be covered with ground white rice and ground everlasting; it is accented by fine cut blue statice and fine cut red statice as well as silverleaf to create accents and shadows. Fine cut everlasting, whole red carnations and white chrysanthemums will bring color to Honda's 50th anniversary logos, which were decorated by Honda employees on Dec. 27.

"We're honored to be celebrating our first 50 years in America by continuing our participation in the Rose Parade," said Stephan Morikawa of American Honda community relations.

Honda is one of the parade's longest-running corporate sponsors, and its Rose Parade entries have captured major awards in 13 of the last 14 years. Honda is the official Tournament of Roses vehicle. This year, the company will provide 115 vehicles, including the Honda FCX Clarity pace car, 166 Metropolitan scooters and 12 generators for use by Tournament of Roses personnel.

The 120th Rose Parade, themed "Hats off to Entertainment," will take place at 11 a.m. (EST) Tuesday, Jan. 1.

Honda began operations in the U.S. in 1959 with the establishment of American Honda Motor Co. Inc., Honda's first overseas subsidiary. Honda began U.S. production of motorcycles in 1979 in Marysville and automobiles in 1982.

-- Jeff Donahue