(LAWEEKLY) -- On Monday, the Tournament of Roses organization announced that actor Gary Sinise, known for his work in Forrest Gump and Apollo 13, was chose as the grand marshal for the 129th Rose Parade Jan. 1.
This year's theme is "making a difference." Sinise was cited for being a humanitarian and donating time and cash to veterans. In a statement, Tournament of Roses president Lance Tibbet said, "Gary’s humanitarian work with our defenders, veterans, first responders and their families over the years, embodies our theme to the fullest."
But some critics are concerned that this could be a divisive choice. Sinise is a founder of a conservative group that gave early voice to then-presidential contender Donald Trump, who is now historically unpopular in California. In July 2015, only a few weeks after Trump kicked off his campaign for president by calling Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals, the Hollywood organization Sinise started, Friends of Abe, hosted the future president at a private event at a Brentwood hotel. At the mixer, Trump said the U.S. should have invaded Mexico. Trump's presence in Los Angeles County, which is immigrant-friendly and about half Latino, outraged some political organizations, which demonstrated outside the Sunset Boulevard event.
Advertisement - story continues below
... However, Sinise hasn't been in lock-step with Trump. Via email, his spokeswoman said, "Gary Sinise did not campaign for Donald Trump. Also, he has not been involved with running FOA [Friends of Abe] for several years, was not involved in the organization of the event that Donald Trump attended, and did not attend that event."