by Dot Cannon
How can anything be magnificent before it’s even finished?
Fiesta Parade Floats has that magic down to a science.
With four days left till the 128th Rose Parade®, Fiesta’s Irwindale facility was humming on Wednesday. Volunteers and staff were in the dry-decoration stages.
When the 2017 Rose Parade starts at 8:00 on Monday, January 2 in Pasadena, Fiesta Parade Floats will have created twelve of the forty-three floats in the parade. Here are just a few of the floats you’ll see–before they have their roses on.
The first float we saw, after entering the float barn, was “Legacy of Generations”. It’s actually two floats, created for Real California Milk and the California Milk Advisory Board.
As the first unit, a life-sized Holstein cow leads the way.
Then, the second unit will follow. At the center of this one is a milk bottle, pouring a stream of “milk”, made of white coconut flakes, onto a bowl of cereal. And all around the bowl will be milk products including cheese and ice cream!
(Like all Rose Parade® floats, every surface of “Legacy of Generations” will be covered with organic materials. Yellow, gold and white strawflower petals supply the colors of the different varieties of cheese, according to the Tournament of Roses’® press release.)
The “generations” part? The same press material says three generations of dairy farmers will be riding this float, on January second!
Meanwhile, a fierce-looking green dragon is part of the Torrance Rose Float Association’s “Be Your Own Knight” float.
In keeping with the 2017 Rose Parade® theme, “Echoes of Success”, this float uses the theme of dragon-slaying.
It also slays some gender stereotypes: no “damsels in distress” here! West High School senior Lindsey Beckmeyer, who created the concept for this float, will be riding it in the role of a brave knight, according to the Tournament of Roses®. Her mission: to defend her castle against the interloper!
Monarch butterflies will be pulling this carriage, for the Miracle-Gro float themed, “Everything’s Coming Up Roses”.
And in case you’re wondering what people are using to add the color to those butterflies–and various other elements of these dozen floats…
…They have white glue, with which they’re attaching seeds, beans, leaves, and other dry materials–one bean or seed at a time.
In an earlier interview, Fiesta Parade Floats Project Manager Beverly Stansbury explained the requirements for Rose Parade® float decoration. Everything decorating the float must be organic–i.e., it must have been alive. So, leaves are fine. Rocks aren’t eligible.
Sinuata statice, coconut, moss, ground walnut shells, and manzanita leaves are some of the organic materials you’ll see on the 2017 floats.
Fiesta Parade Floats, which has been building Rose Parade®floats for twenty-nine years, has won more awards than any other float builder in the parade. They’re also record-setters.
In 2012, Fiesta created the “Surf’s Up!” float, for Natural Balance Pet Foods. This one made the Guinness Book of World Records as “longest and heaviest single chassis parade float”. It weighed more than 65 tons and was more than 119 feet long.
A New 2017 Record
For 2017, Fiesta is about to break that record.
For nonprofit Lucy Pet Foundation, they’ve created “Lucy Pet’s Gnarly Crankin’ K-9 Wave Maker”. The “Wave Maker”‘s set to be the longest and heaviest in Rose Parade® history: 125 feet long, and weighing more than 70 tons! Tournament of Roses® officials say this float will contain more than 6,600 gallons of water. It also incorporates a specially designed wave machine, to produce a wave every 45 seconds, for the benefit of its star riders: eight surfing dogs!
During our visit, we had the opportunity to meet two of these canine stars.
Lucy Pet Foundation’s spokesdog, “Surfin’ Jack” was looking very cool and bronzed.
(Of course, the fact that she is part Golden Retriever didn’t hurt her Southern California beach-blonde look!)
And Sully, named in honor of heroic US Airlines pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, was enjoying the attentions of his adoring public.
Aspirations and Remembrance
Another ooh-and-aah-evoking float was the City of Los Angeles’ “Follow the Sun”.
As Los Angeles is the U.S. Candidate City to host the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the float features the L.A. Coliseum…
…as well as L.A.’s new Olympic logo: the 2024 angel.
But perhaps the most moving and inspiring of Fiesta’s 2017 creations is “To Honor and Remember Orlando”.
The float, built for the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, is a tribute to those killed and injured in the June 2016 “Pulse” nightclub shooting. The double rainbow symbolizes hope–and the triumph of love over ignorance.
During the Rose Parade®, there will be two dove releases, of forty-nine white doves. The float also has forty-nine stars, in remembrance of the forty-nine people who died.
Float riders on “To Honor and Remember Orlando” will include four of the Pulse club patrons/victims. Pulse club owner Barbara Poma, who started Pulse in honor of her brother John, following his death from AIDS complications, will also be riding.
Of course, since New Year’s Day, 2017. is on Sunday, the Rose Parade® happens on Monday, January second. So those roses aren’t going on the floats for awhile yet.
But we can’t wait to see the finished products at Colorado and Orange Grove next Monday.