Everything’s Rosy with the Floats

Photo by Leonard COUTIN At the float decorating site for the City of La Cañada entry, volunteers continue to work on completing the whimsical entry, “If Pigs Could Fly.”
Photo by Leonard COUTIN
At the float decorating site for the City of La Cañada entry, volunteers continue to work on completing the whimsical entry, “If Pigs Could Fly.”

Just days before these beauties are presented to the world, volunteers are keeping late hours to ensure that the 2012 Rose Parade floats look their best.


With the 123rd Rose Parade just days away, volunteers are hard at work, putting the final touches on the 44 floats set to make their way down Colorado Boulevard on Monday morning.

Under the Foothill (210) Freeway on Hampton Road, the La Cañada entry for the parade, “If Pigs Could Fly,” is being decorated. Adults, teens and children pitch in to glue black onion seeds on pigs’ eyeballs and decide where to put flowers and other materials to cover up the framework. Even with the continuous roar of cars rushing overhead, volunteers stay focused on getting the job done.

At the Rose Palace in Pasadena, the City of Glendale float is among 22 being prepared for its television debut. One of the oldest participants, this year marks Glendale’s 98th parade entry, “Just Imagine the Music, Fun and Freedom,” that features a 20-foot tall elephant leading a circus calliope.

“[The float] is going to be beautiful,” said Dave Weaver, crew chief of the Glendale float. Weaver is also one of the most dedicated volunteers, having logged in hundreds of hours on the annual project over the past 19 years.

At the La Cañada float, Brian Jacobs takes the crown for donating the most time. Jacobs has been contributing to the building of the floats for 29 years and currently serves as deco chair.

“This is a wonderful volunteer organization that’s about producing a product that’s seen by millions of people,” he said. “It’s an opportunity for me to use leadership skills that I have to organize and have [the float] executed in a safe, healthy, productive way.”

Volunteers are always an integral part of float completion, and Brian Dancel, media relations manager of Phoenix Decorating Company, said at least 20,000 people help out during decorating week right before the parade.

“Without our volunteers this doesn’t run,” said Dancel. “They do everything from gluing, to flowering, to cutting, [to scaffolding], so for a lot of people … this is a passion for them and it’s just a great chance to come out and do something hands on right before a world-renowned parade.” Phoenix Decorating Company has been building floats for the Rose Parade for many years.

Weaver said the number of volunteers early on in the week had been lighter than he’d hoped. However, he saw an increase in the number of walk-ins wishing to decorate the float.

In La Cañada, volunteers have numbered at approximately 650. Sarah Marshall, membership chairman of the La Cañada Flintridge Tournament of Roses Association, estimates a similar number of people will help out throughout deco week, when the floats are decorated.

For this year’s design, the La Cañada float will be using more flowers overall compared to last year, including more than 10,000 roses.

For both the La Cañada and Glendale floats, many volunteers come from local high schools who participate for reasons beyond clocking in service hours.

“It’s different from the other community service projects that I’ve done,” said Katherine Aranda, a student at Immaculate Heart High School who helped with the Glendale float. “It’s cool to work on a rose float.”

Others find the end result rewarding.

“[The best part] is that everyone works together and at the end … you can really see the different parts and different aspects that were worked on,” said Terrence Diaz, a student at Marshall High School who also helped with Glendale’s float.

For Kirsten George, a junior at La Cañada High School, volunteering has been something she’d wanted to do since she was younger.

“I live really close so I remember when I was little I’d come down and look at the float and I’ve always wanted to help with it so I finally can,” she said.

George has volunteered with the float for three years.

Helping hands also include those who live out of state.

Sarah Cohen, a freshman at the University of Oregon, has volunteered for four years now. During her time home for the holidays, she devotes time to decorating the La Cañada float. Cohen finds helping with the project a positive experience and said people should see the float before the parade.

“It’s different to see it up so close before you see it out in the parade,” she said. “And also it smells amazing.”

The first round of judging for the floats will take place at noon on Saturday, and the second round will be at noon on Sunday.

Anyone interested in volunteering for the La Cañada may walk in during the weekend. Those who want to help with the Glendale float can find more information about shifts at http://glendalerosefloat2012.ivolunteer.com.