Mesa to Pitt 2015

Mesa to Pitt 2015

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Decorating floats for the Rose Parade December 28

Dec. 28... We had to drag our butts out of bed at 6:45AM, to catch a 7:15 bus departure to Azusa, to volunteer our services to a float decorating outfit. We were on the bus for a little over an hour, and arrived at a big warehouse, 25 miles from Pasadena, the sight of the actual parade. The place was bustling with activity, and before they put us to work, we got a tour of the facility and a little history of the operation. We learned that they judge the floats before they leave the warehouse, because it takes them  9 hours to be towed 25 miles to the parade route, and sometimes things happen that are not planned. We saw that the warehouse contained many different floats, with scaffolding all around them. Flowers were being ground up, beans and Brussels Sprouts were being glued onto molds, things were being constructed and painted, and people of all ages were scurrying about. We were split into two groups, with Buddy sorting little green bottles that roses will be placed into, and Pam and I cutting the purple pedals off of some little flowers. The purple will be used to create the color blue on the floats. There are no blue flowers, and it is the hardest color for the float people to reproduce. It was very tedious work, as we sat on five gallon buckets, with our scissors, cutting purple pedals off of flowers that were drying out, more rapidly than we could do them. We worked pretty hard for the first hour, but the fruits of our labor wouldn't even fill one five gallon bucket, and there were twenty of us snipping. It was all downhill from there, as people lost interest and wandered off, and as the flowers dried out, they became very difficult to work with. Buddy refused to trim flowers, and his little green rose bottle sorting skills soon became too tedious. He found a job where he climbed fifteen feet into the air on scaffolding, and glued green ti leaves onto a palm tree mold on the Stanford  float. Stanford is playing Michigan State in the Rose Bowl. That was much more suited to his skill set. Pam found herself applying crushed walnut shells to a layer of Elmer's glue on the Stanford float, forming a brown window. I stuck with the flowers for a while, but soon went inside and found fresher flowers to be depetaled. The blue/ purple flowers would be used on the float for 'The Voice,' a talent show on NBC, and for a water scene on floats from Indonesia and China. The Michigan State float was also there, as well as others. We made a very small contribution in our 3-4 hours there, as it is unbelievably tedious and time consuming to make these floats which are 100% covered with natural ingredients. I find it amazing that they will get them done before the parade. Each float costs between $75,000-400,000.
It doesn't take long for us old geezers to get worn out, so we were out of there by 1:00. Pam and Buddy would have loved to stay for the rest of the day, but we bussed out to a Marie Callender Restaurant and had a huge lunch. Pretty good, too. Then it was another bus ride back to Santa Clarita, and a short 'happy hour' meeting, all before 6:00. The three of us then spent some time in the spa, as is becoming almost a nightly routine for us. Buddy skipped the meeting and went for a six mile run, then to LA Fitness for a weight training session. He is starting to really get back into shape, and he is determined to take advantage of the good weather and free time to continue that effort. For myself, the downtime I am taking is designed to recharge my mental batteries, and reboot my metabolism.

Our float decorating building - when finished, they floats are driven 20 miles to the staging area (its only 12 miles by interstate)

This guy was across the street from the building filming the proceedings

Stacks of wooden racks that hold glass rose vials.  They place a rose in each vial before the roses are placed on the floats.

Purple flowers that will be decorated with flowers, etc and then placed on float.


This was the norm - buckets and buckets of flowers!

And lots of cartons of flowers

Asian student volunteers cutting small mums off their stems

Rows of purple flowers

Working on part of the float with it's color "map"

China Airlines - this float eventually won an award.  In this picture they were finishing the dry work (gluing seeds, dried flowers, etc).  Later in the day they started the flowers.

Scaffolding was all through the building

Close-up of China Airlines.  It's a paint by number system.  The flowers, seeds, etc get glued into place flowing a color map.

Ministry of Tourism for Indonesia float

This chair eventually gets covered by orange/red carnations



Volunteers working on The Voice float

This hand with a microphone raises up once the float is at the staging area.

Indonesia float

NBC logo was done with dried petals


The hand
People gluing seeds on the float - picture in front is what the float will look like.

This is the claw of the giant lizard on the Indonesia float.  This woman was applying glue and then placing pinto beans.  Very tedious!

The two football floats


Working on the Voice float

Close-up of the purple flowers that will end up on the Indonesia float


Trying to keep the flowers fresh in the unusual heat (close to 80)

Buddy was sorting the glass rose vials

Pam cutting the petals off of the statice flowers!  They dry the petals and then apply them to a glue surface.

Buddy up on scaffolding applying Ti leaves (correct spelling!) to make a palm tree on the Stanford float

Looking good!

He had to apply layers and layers of Ti leaves to give the palm fronds depth

Lots of people sitting and cutting statice petals

Carnations for The Voice float


Keeping the carnations cool

The black is a type of sea weed

Working on a window on the Stanford float.  The other woman painted on the white glue and I applied crushed walnut shells.  I scooped it up and pressed it onto the glue.  The shells were crushed up in blenders.

My window!!!  I'm very proud of it!

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