Rose Parade 2014

Today you’re in for a treat as Tom Bowling AIFD, PFCI shares his experience of working on a float for the Rose Parade! This tradition began in 1890 with people decorating their carriages with hundreds of blooms.  Now it has become a one of a kind event that doesn’t disappoint!  Take it away Tom…

 What do 50,000 Aquapics and 4 cases of Aquafoam have in common? Both are components in a Rose Parade float featured in The Tournament of Roses Parade held annually on New Year’s Day.

 This year I was fortunate to be involved with the Cal Poly Rose Parade Float program in Pasadena, California. I served as the liaison between the Cal Poly students, who design and build their float, and the California Cut Flower Commission, who oversees the growers who produce the fresh materials used on the float.

 The floats are mostly designed on truck chassis and covered in wood, miles of pencil steel window screen, burlap, and LOTS of flowers & dried material. Every visible inch of the 42 floats that make their way down Colorado Blvd on New Year’s Day must be covered with either fresh or natural materials that cannot be dyed or altered in any way. A lot of imagination is required to find products with just the right color & texture that will capture the viewers and judges eyes. Every detail must look as good in person as it does on camera as millions from all over the world are watching this historic event!

 The theme of the Cal Poly float this year was Bedtime Buccaneers. It featured two children dressed as pirates standing on a bed that had been magically turned into a playful pirate ship complete with cannons on the side that shot out CO2 as the parade moved along. The bed looked as if it were set adrift on a sea of beautiful blue Iris that were all individually placed in an Aquapic and then inserted into the insulation foam covering the floor of the float making it look like water. How many Iris do you think it takes to do that……? How about 30,000! Each Iris must be to be hand cut, hand opened and inserted at just the right stage of development so each looks fabulous for the judges eyes on December 31st and the viewing public on parade day, January1st.  Add to those 30,000 another 20,000 Aquapics filled with roses for the Bed of Roses on which the children were playing and you have just a small part of the decorations that were placed on this year’s award winning float. Now imagine adding a single piece of rice applied individually to form the stitching on the children’s pajamas! Or if that is not mind numbing enough, glue black beans one at a time and all facing the same way to form the letters that spelled out the title of the float. All these and countless more details and products were applied by a host of volunteers who worked tirelessly to make these floats come to life on New Year’s Day.

 Then, after the floats have been on display for several days following the parade, they go back to their float barns, are disassembled, and all those Aquapics are washed and sanitized to get ready for next year’s parade!

 The 2015 parade theme was just announced and the builders are already submitting ideas and renderings for their fabulous ideas. Since 1995 I have been involved in this labor of love and it only gets better every year. Who knows, maybe one year my dream of riding on one of the floats will come true!!


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