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Rose Parade From Scratch

Happy 2013 everyone! Instead of taking you down the Rose Parade as I had done in years past, this year I’ll show you the parade from scratch by actually volunteering to decorate one of the floats. I’ve probably wanted to do this since moving to Pasadena in 1998 but never got around to signing up for it. But as I always say better today than never, here are some shots of a Saturday afternoon before parade day. It started out by meeting up at this huge warehouse in Padadena…

The exterior belies the behemoth interior (freezing cold) space. And even then, perhaps less than ten floats could fit inside:

I made my way to the City of Glendale float, to which I was assigned:

There were a lot of volunteers already working on the float, but there were even more of us newbie volunteers milling around waiting for our assignments. I’d have to say it was a bit chaotic and unorganized, but the crew manager assured me he’d been doing this for 20 years so I zipped it. While waiting, I wandered around the float…

and then I wandered around the warehouse…

Darn it, how come I didn’t get assigned to this cuddly float:

Anyway, there were a lot of love and hard work everywhere I turned. Some assembly lines were more efficient than others, and there were colors everywhere…

Finally I was called to work! I was to pin those green leafy/thorny branches but after they saw me swinging on the scaffold, one kid brought me back to reality by asking if I was afraid of heights. Then it dawned on me that once I stopped swinging, I’d actually have to stand on a narrow platform about 25 feet above ground. I climbed back down–my walk of shame–and they handed me a brush and some glue to work on the bottom edge of the trolley:

First I had to clear the area of debris, then I applied the white glue as evenly as possible, and finally smudged the red shredded seeds by sponge quickly before the glue dried. After sniffing that glue for thirty minutes, I was dreaming about just watching the parade from the street next year. Or better yet, in my pjs from a comfortable sofa. I have a new level of respect for these devoted volunteers, especially the ones who return for more tours of duty year after year.

So what did I learn from this experience? If there’s a next time, I’ll volunteer the final day before the parade when you actually get to work with more flowers. After all, those are applied last so they don’t wilt. Second, I might still love to own a flower shop at some point in my life.

But most of all, as long as you have the spirit of volunteerism behind you, everything comes up roses. Look how our float turned out on parade day:

Make it a great year!

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