by Dot Cannon
“Whoa! Look what they’re doing!”
These were just three of the reactions from spectators, on Thursday, as volunteers decorated floats in multiple locations for Pasadena’s upcoming 129th Rose Parade®.
The Tournament of Roses® had opened its “Decorating Places” for public float viewing at 11:00 that morning. So visitors had an opportunity to see a number of the floats that would wow them on New Year’s Day.
Four commercial float builders and six independent builders construct floats for the Rose Parade®.
Visitors saw volunteers using plenty of glue and lots of patience. The floats’ painted surfaces must be completely covered with dry materials–leaves, seeds and bark–to provide the specified colors. (Due to their perishable nature, the roses go on last.)
And all decorating materials must be organic, says Fiesta Parade Floats project manager Beverly Stansbury. So whatever a float’s colors, they must come from a plant of some type.
According to a staffer at Phoenix Decorating Company, Monday’s 129th Rose Parade® will include 44 floats.
Limited time, infinite patience
One of the challenges facing the volunteers? Time is short–but “spectacular” is essential, for Rose Parade® floats. And the work can be intricate.
These feathers for the City of Torrance’s “Protecting Nature…The Madrona Marsh Preserve” are made of materials including rice powder and white enamel paint.
Volunteer Bonny Kamen, working at Fiesta Parade Floats, said preparation of these was a painstaking process, which took six hours to complete.
Meanwhile, another group created these monarchs with…
The scope of imagination
Fiesta Parade Floats is the top award-winning float builder of the Rose Parade® over the past thirty years, according to their website. A visit to their float barn revealed both beauty and whimsy.
Fiesta Parade Floats has built a dozen floats for the 2018 parade.
Among them: the Kaiser Permanente, Dole, City of Riverside and Northwestern Mutual floats.
Creativity at Rosemont
Across town, at Phoenix Decorating Company’s Rosemont pavilion, Donate Life One Legacy ambassador Lupe Sanchez explained how the volunteers manage to make their deadline when, often, their work that involves covering a surface of the floats, one grain of rice or seed at a time.
“We call in (every volunteer we have and they get it all done in time),” she said.
Lupe shared some facts about Donate Life’s float, “The Gift of Time”. The Aztec calendar, at the center, is a 12-foot circle–and the medallions on its face are portraits of organ donors.
Not far away, we were wowed by Paradiso Parade Floats’ UPS Store and Singpoli floats, as well.
Meanwhile, students were busily decorating the only student-built float in the Rose Parade®, the Cal Poly Universities Float.
“Overall, I think the most fun I’ve had is just welding (the float),” said fourth-year mechanical engineering student Orlando Cabrera. “Coming into it, I didn’t realize how big this was, until I got here (and saw the 3D float models) and I was like, ‘wow, these are…really, really good’.”
Fourth-year civil engineering student Tyus Robinson said working on the Cal Poly Rose Float taught him about “structures and loads”.
“We always have to factor in weight for our mechanisms to work properly,” he explained. “And also, we have to factor in, people are going to be on the float. So that’s definitely something I’ve learned.”
Cal Poly Universities is one of just six “self-builts”, or noncommercial float builders, who design and construct their own floats for the Rose Parade® They’re also unique in the way the float’s frame is built. Students from Cal Poly Pomona build half the float, while the San Luis Obispo campus builds the other half–and then, the two halves get joined in October.
Cal Poly Universities’ 2018 entry, “Dreams Take Flight”, is a landmark: their 70th float!
Nearby, the volunteers had arrived, to begin decorating the dignitaries’ cars. Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek is set to ride in this 1924 jitney bus…
…while 2018 Grand Marshal Gary Sinise’s ride is this 1919 Dodge Brothers car, which appeared in the classic movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life”!
And that’s just barely a start , on the preparations for the 2018 Rose Parade® .
Tomorrow, we’ll look forward to bringing you a look inside Phoenix Decorating Company’s brand-new facility in Irwindale. A staffer said there are seventeen floats onsite.