Preparations enter into final stages before the New Year’s Day debut.
By Michael BRUER
It’s that time of year again. While many play with their new Christmas gadgets and bask in the final days of 2013, others in the foothills community are hard at work – putting together memorable floats for this year’s Tournament of Roses Parade.
The 2014 Rose Parade marks the 125th parade, a tradition that has stood the test of time. The Rose Parade continues to amaze young and old alike and, while the technology that creates the magnificent floats exponentially improves, the determination of the volunteers who make it all possible never seems to change.
The floats from the City of Glendale and the La Cañada Flintridge Tournament of Roses Association join 42 others in this year’s extravaganza, including entries from 10 other cities in Southern California as well as a float each from Michigan State and Stanford, the two teams in the Rose Bowl game. This year’s theme for the Rose Parade is “Dreams Come True,” a theme which must be reflected in each float design.
The City of Glendale marks its 100th year as a participant in the Rose Parade, a feat outdone only by the city of Los Angeles. Decoration of this year’s float, named “Let’s Be Neighbors” (top right), began on Dec. 14, and has included up to 100 volunteers per shift. There are two shifts each day that work on the float, which is being constructed and primped and primed at the Rose Palace in Pasadena. The process of taking an idea and creating a fully functioning float is an arduous one. The idea for the design is approved by city council in March. The movable equipment aboard the float is approved through the Tournament of Roses and it is tested for speed over a two-mile distance. Once the soldering of the metal pieces is completed and the float is sprayed with foam and painted accordingly, the decorating starts.
“I think it’s really exciting to see it begin with people coming up with ideas, to sending the ideas to an artist to develop a sketch, and then to the building itself, complete with wire works and framing, and double checking the animatronics,” said Glendale Community Services specialist Patty Betancourt. “The volunteers, who are aged 12 and older, take pride in doing the best they can, because a lot of it is very detailed. Many of the volunteers go to Orange Grove early in the morning on Jan. 1 to watch their creation make its way down the street.”
City of Glendale float organizers also offered a raffle for the community to determine the riders who will ride on the float. Glendale residents (including La Crescenta and Montrose) were invited to pay $20 for a raffle ticket, the proceeds of which would go to the building of the city’s entry. Two winners were selected: Jennifer Coshland and Alice Loo. Coshland will be riding alongside her husband Robert, while Loo will be joined by her best friend Nelva Ramir.
Since 1978, the La Cañada Flintridge Tournament of Roses Association has participated in the Rose Parade. This year, 700 volunteers have signed up to help decorate the entry. Decoration of the LCF float (bottom right) began on Dec. 22. The flowers will arrive on Dec. 28, and volunteers will maintain shifts beginning at 9 p.m. and lasting until 1 a.m. Jan. 1 to ensure the completion of the float. Volunteer coordinator/decorator Sarah Marshall spoke about the increasingly exciting days of work and preparation.
“It builds up,” she said. “You’re tired but you’re still doing it, to support the community.”
“To help out with the construction and decoration of the float is a family tradition, and in many ways this is our second family,” said deco-chair emeritus Danelle Jacobs. “I’m in my 29th year volunteering, and we will see people who have been helping since the beginning. In a world in which everything is so splintered and lives are shared via Facebook, it’s a change of pace to come here and work on this float every year. It’s a throwback in a lot of ways. It is also just special to have a hand in something that is seen worldwide.”
This year’s float is “Dog Gone!” and features a trio of dogs on the run from a dog catcher driving away via flatbed truck. The float idea was decided upon after a careful process that included gathering float submissions, assessing the floats’ ability to be constructed, decorated and animated. The system for creating the floats includes a number of difficult jobs, including addressing mechanical issues and decorative concerns. This year, in particular, the most peculiar of problems cropped up when organizers began looking for a plant or flower to match the brown color of the dog’s fur. La Cañada is fortunate to be the residence of the owner of the largest flower broker in Los Angeles, Mayesh, that provides the bulk of the flowers for the float each year. While exotic flowers are not needed for this year’s model, in the past they would typically be flown in from Thailand, while roses are primarily brought in from South America where the warm summer climate allows for their growth during this time of year.
The Glendale and La Cañada Flintridge floats will be in the 125th Tournament of Roses Parade, beginning at 8 a.m. on New Year’s Day.