With New Year’s Day just – well, days – away, the cities of La Cañada and Glendale are working hard to finish their entries for the 124th Rose Parade hosted by the Pasadena Tournament of Roses.
By Michael J. ARVIZU
Even a little cold and rain couldn’t dampen the spirits of the volunteers working on the La Cañada Tournament of Roses Assn. entry for the 124th Rose Parade.
Paint and ground flowers were being applied to the skin of “DINO-SOAR” early Monday morning. The float is currently parked under a Foothill (210) Freeway overpass at Hampton Road and Foothill Boulevard in La Cañada. It had to be moved there ahead of schedule in order to protect it from this week’s wet winter storms.
This year’s parade theme is “Oh, the Places You’ll Go.” La Cañada’s float features a brontosaurus hoping to – as his mother looks on in horror – go places using his newly built wings and roller skate-style landing gear. The brontosaurus attempts his feat within a setting of rocky plateaus and smoking volcanoes.
At 30,000 pounds, the float measures 10 feet wide, 48 feet long, and extends 23 feet high when the brontosaurus’ head is fully extended. The float will be decorated with an estimated 32,300 flowers, including carnations, mums, roses and orchids. Because La Cañada’s float is out in the open, dry decorations – cornhusk, onion seed, poppy seed and paprika, to name a few – cannot be added right away. And float designers want the flowers to look their best for the parade, so they are added at the last possible moment, but not so late that they miss the float judging deadline.
“This float is a great thing because it is self-built,” said La Cañada float decorator Joanne Farmer. “It is a neighborhood effort to build the float.”
Volunteers will spend up to 14 hours preparing the entry. As of Monday morning, float decorating was about two days behind, said float mechanical designer Dustin Crumb.
“We have to compress everything into, essentially, a week,” said Crumb. “The real issue is, what’s the weather going to be like? It’s always a guessing game.”
Over at the Rose Palace in Pasadena, volunteers were busy Wednesday decorating Glendale’s Rose Parade entry, “Living the Good Life!” The float depicts many of the sights and institutions the city of Glendale is known for including an Americana at Brand trolley and a film reel, representative of the city’s production companies, including DreamWorks Animation and Walt Disney Studios. Columns at all four corners of the float will feature “florographs” – photographs made out of flowers – of the Alex Theatre, Glendale Adventist Medical Center, Glendale Adventist doctors with patients, and Pacific BMW, a car dealership on Brand Boulevard. At 17 feet high and 35 feet long, this will be Glendale’s 99th entry in the Rose Parade.
Many of the colors featured on the float are custom made. For example, if a flower’s petal color is too dark or too light for the surface it is to be put on, designers will make a custom color – created on the spot – utilizing any number of ingredients, such as white rice.
“We had to improvise and do a little bit of mixing,” said decorator Vincent Tam. “There are so many shades of colors, no one material is going to perfectly match it. We always end up having to mix this material with that one just to get the right shade that we want.”
According to Tam, the float will utilize no less than 15,000 live flowers including roses, gerberas and tulips, and dry materials such as kumquats and cranberries. Decorating on the float is about a day behind as of Wednesday afternoon, he said.
“I have the trolley done. I got to cut paper bark – and I haven’t even got that yet – for the runners and the seats in the trolley,” said Glendale float crew chief Dave Weaver. “I got to put silver leaf onto the movie reel.”
This is Glendale resident Linda Rich’s second year as a volunteer float decorator. She is following in the footsteps of her late parents who were volunteer decorators about 20 years ago.
“This is my vacation,” Rich said, as she sat next to the float cutting dried blue statice flower petals. “It’s fun when you get in here. When I walked in here last year, I was so excited to see it all. It’s so grand to stand next to it and see how big everything is.”
Over 600 volunteers have worked on the float this year, said Weaver, the sound of blenders whizzing in the background. The majority of his volunteers are from local high schools, including Clark Magnet, Hoover, and Glendale high schools, and high schools in Alhambra and Los Angeles.
“It’s been a lot of fun. I really wanted to help,” said Glendale resident Anaeis Ebrahimi, 15, a student at Clark Magnet High School in La Crescenta. “I am able to help and meet some new people.”
The Rose Parade is broadcast live on several television channels beginning at 8 a.m. on Jan. 1. After the parade, the public can view all the entries up close at the Showcase of Floats in Pasadena at Sierra Madre and Washington. The schedule on Jan. 1 is from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and on Jan. 2 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., rain or shine. The cost is $10 (children under 5 are free).
For more information, visit www.tournamentofroses.com.