Samantha Zaidman was a young girl in second grade watching the annual Rose Parade with her family on the TV.
She watched as vivacious floats rolled down one by one on the parade path. Then she noticed something in front of the float: banners. Banners that were being held by Girl Scout troop members.
She turned to her mother, Angela Zaidman, and asked her how she could be one of them.
“I want to be that girl holding that banner,” said Samantha.
Angela began to explain that Samantha would have to work her way up to achieve the highest honor in Girl Scouts – the Gold Award.
Samantha decided that day, that was going to be her goal.
On Monday, Samantha, at 17 years old, lived out her dream as she walked five and a half miles in the 134th annual Rose Parade, carrying a banner like the one that she had seen on TV 11 years ago.
“My feet do hurt but it was definitely worth it,” said Samantha.
Over the 11 years, Samantha worked hard in Girl Scouts and even became one of the top cookie sellers in greater Los Angeles for selling more than 3,000 boxes of cookies.
When it was time for her to start her Gold Award project, she decided to create a memorial wall for the first graduating class at Castaic High School, the school she attends.
The wall will include tiles of everyone’s name with a little image that represents their high school career and a timeline of significant events for the school.
This Gold Award project, and a very intensive interview and application process, got her a 1-out-of-100 spot in the Tournament Troop. The Tournament Troop is a combination of 50 Boy Scouts and 50 Girl Scouts who get to carry the banners in the parade.
She was the only Scout selected in all of Santa Clarita.
In preparation for the big moment, Samantha walked laps around a track, holding a pole to mimic the physical demands of walking in the parade.
Samantha and Angela have been volunteering to decorate the Burbank rose float for 10 years. They have worked on many aspects, from arranging the roses to gluing potato halves to the float to look like rocks.
At this year’s parade, Burbank won the Queen Award, the most outstanding presentation of roses.
Out of pure luck, Samantha was assigned to carry this award banner for the Burbank float.
“We didn’t find out what banner we were holding until literally, like 10 minutes before,” said Samantha. “’Oh, I’m holding Burbank!’ That was a pretty nice moment.”
Samantha took many years to achieve her dream. She hopes that this moment can be just as significant for other younger Girl Scouts to show what can be possible if you work toward your dream.
“They can do anything if they put their mind to it and even if it’s a huge goal, they can make little goals to work up to it like I did, and eventually reach it,” said Samantha.