Documentary ‘Float’ chronicles Burbank’s entry from concept to Colorado Blvd.

Usually I’m on the button side of the camera. Yesterday, I was the subject.

by Laura Berthold Monteros

Karl Preusser

It was a beautiful, move-to-California day at Tournament House yesterday, where I had the pleasure of being interviewed by composer and filmmaker Karl Preusser (behind the camera at left) for a documentary. Float is the story of how a self-built Rose Parade float gets from design to deconstruct, focusing on Burbank Tournament of Roses Association. Preusser and his wife have volunteered with BTORA for seven years, and he has recently moved up from the flower cage to learning welding. His wife served one year as decorating chair, a job that requires estimating and rounding up the botanical materials for a float.

Preusser had originally thought to do a sort of reality show, but he soon discovered that there is more camaraderie than conflict among the builders, which doesn’t make for a lot of drama. Competition for the float awards is tempered by the attitude that everyone, professional companies and self-built associations alike, have a shared goal of putting on a beautiful and entertaining parade. In many ways, the Rose Parade is still a hometown event.

Our conversation ranged over the history of the Tournament of Roses to the differences among various builders, the accommodations locals are willing to make to support the Rose Parade, and why it is such a special event. I like to talk, so it went on a couple hours, and I don’t envy Preusser the job of editing it down to a few minutes. His aim is to get the film ready to submit to the Sundance Film Festival by August. My piece was one of the last to fit in.

I don’t know that I had much original information, but I can opine on of what it is that makes the Rose Parade so exceptional, so enticing to 80 million viewers around the world and 700,000 along the parade route. When I interviewed R. Scott Jenkins, president of the 2014 Tournament of Roses, he talked about the Macy’s Parade and the huge balloons and Broadway acts. “What makes us unique in my view is floral-covered floats….That’s what puts us on the map.” I responded, “It’s that the Rose Parade has a soul.”

 

Self-built floats are entries that are designed and built entirely by volunteer organizations, or in the case of Cal Poly Universities, schools. Here are the six organizations that grace the Rose Parade every year:

Self-builders share picnic goodies and 2018 float renderings

At the annual Self-Built Floats picnic on May 6, 2017, folks huddled under canopies to nosh on burgers and potluck.

by Laura Berthold Monteros

Self-Built float associations may compete for trophies in the Tournament of Roses Parade, but there is a lot of camaraderie and mutual aid among the volunteers and students who build the entries. Of the 40 to 45 flower-covered floats, all but six are built by professional float companies. The six associations take turns hosting an annual potluck get-together to display the renderings and share stories. The Rose Examiner was honored to attend today’s event, in anticipation of the 129th Rose Parade to be held on Jan. 1, 2018.

La Cañada Flintridge Tournament of Roses Association hosted barbecue at Los Angeles County Fire Camp 2, a training facility tucked between the Jet Propulsion Lab and Hahamongna Watershed Park. Tables were filled with potluck sides and desserts while LCFTRA volunteers grilled burgers and hot dogs. A fragrant log fire warmed our hands in the steady rain. It was the end of a typical spring week in Southern California, which saw sunny 90-degree-plus days in the first half of the week drop to 60 degrees for the weekend.

The six self-builders are Burbank Tournament of Roses Association, Cal Poly Universities, Downey Rose Float Association, La Cañada Flintridge Tournament of Roses Association, Sierra Madre Rose Float Association, and South Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association. DRFA and SPTORA were unable to make picnic, but we have photos of the rest.