By Mary O’Keefe
To many people New Year’s Day means resolutions and new beginnings but to a growing select few it means the culmination of hours of hard work and endless bottles of glue.
The Tournament of Roses Parade floats will bring a burst of color onto Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena on Dec. 31. Like every year people will be in awe of the creativity and beauty. It may all look like roses and sunshine on New Years Day but what many don’t realize is the amount of hard work and planning it takes before that roll down the boulevard.
“Our meeting for the 2011 float will be on Jan. 22,” said Danelle Jacobs, decoration chair for the La Cañada Flintridge float.
This is Jacobs 25 year working on the La Cañada float.
“When I was a little girl my dad would walk me down to [where they were building] the float. You had to be 13-years-old to volunteer back then. I cannot explain how [great] it felt to work on the float,” she said.
While she was working on the float, little did she know her future husband was they’re volunteering as well.
“We began dating in high school,” she said.
They would occasionally have arguments during the summer but by December they were back together and volunteering.
“Most of these people here that volunteer have known us since we were real young. When we finally told them we were getting married they all said ‘about time.’ They knew we would end up together,” she said.
Today Jacobs is an attorney and husband Brian is a licensed clinical social worker. They live in Sonoma County and travel to La Cañada every year to work on the float. They intend to carry on the tradition with their two young children.
“We love it. And we have made so many friends. We have become very close to some of the volunteers. We even vacation with Dustin [Crumb],” she said. Crumb the man in charge of the animation and computer engineering for the float.
Over 600 volunteer applications were received this year, up from last year by about 200. The volunteers come from all over including La Crescenta.
The Tournament of Roses Parade theme for 2010 is “A Cut Above The Rest.” La Cañada’s float this year is titled Scissored Wizard.
“It was my granddaughter Emily Neilson design that won this year,” said a very proud grandmother Ann Neilson.
Emily had worked on the float for many years and had sent in a design entry since she was six-years-old. She is now 16 and lives in Walnut Creek.
“She takes [Advanced Placement] art classes at her high school. The design is an origami dragon created by a wizard in training,” Neilson said.
The float will be animated with the dragon’s neck raising and the entire body rears up and opens his mouth.
“[The dragon] can raise all the way up, 30 feet, in five seconds. We really don’t need it to be that fast but if it has to the system can handle it,” Jacobs said.
Seeing her granddaughter’s design come to life has been thrilling for Neilson.
“We are very excited. Emily is so humble but she is really a talented artist. We are so proud of her,” Neilson said.
The finishing touches are being placed on the La Cañada float at the corner of Hampton Road and Foothill Boulevard under the freeway.
A majestic bald eagle is the city of Glendale’s Tournament of Roses Parade entry. “America’s Pride” is the title of the float that finds the 22-foot eagle surrounded by natural plants.
“It celebrates the natural setting and abundant open space of Glendale with is literally and figuratively ‘a cut above the rest’,” according to the Glendale Float Association.
On Tuesday crew chief, and city councilmember, Dave Weaver said the decoration was a few hours behind but he felt confident they would be done by Wednesday.
The feather’s along the neck of the eagle is covered with pampas grass that was obtained from Glendale parks, said Bruce Cleal, crewmember.
Cleal’s daughter is a falconer and has a falcon at their home she is training.
“The eagle’s claws and falcon’s are similar. I just took pictures of the claws and made everyone look at it before they began working on the eagle,” he said.
The picture clearly shows that claws are rough, he said.
“So we made certain that the popcorn kernels are sitting up to show that jagged look,” he said.
Sarah Hasenfus has volunteered to work on the Glendale float for six years while fellow volunteer Albert Tam is on his tenth year of helping.
“I just like working on the float,” Hasenfus said. “I find peace in [creating] and gluing the flowers.”
“And meeting new people,” Tam added.
First time float volunteers Kristine Babayan, Sona Avdalyan, Sirvard Ayrapetyan and Hasmik Djoulakian all freshmen in local high schools have their community service hours but just wanted to work.
“It is cool to be part of this,” Ayrapetyan said.
When asked if anything surprised them about the work Avdalyan said she was surprised at the detailed work.
“And having to getting up the scaffolding was [a little difficult],” Babayan said.
“Yeah, you can have a fear of heights,” Djoulakian said. “Or a fear of glue.”
They all shared glue stories from getting glue in their eyes to having their fingers stuck together at the end of the day. All said that they would come back to next year.
The Glendale will be the last float of the parade and that suits Weaver just fine.
“There will be Eagle Scouts from the Boy Scouts [of America] in front of us and behind us. Then the Navy jets will fly the missing man formation over our float. They told us it would be a once in a lifetime event. They usually don’t fly the missing man over the Rose Parade,” Weaver said.
He added the missing man is for Private First Class Bowe Bergdahl who the U.S. Pentagon confirmed captured by Taliban in Afghanistan on June 29.
The city of Glendale float is being decorated in Pasadena at the Phoenix Decorating’s Rose Palace at 835 So. Raymond Avenue.