Your Rose Examiner spent three consecutive days walking the float barns, and came back with tons of photos. For these galleries, I’ve chosen one of each float, shots I particularly like, just to give a flavor of the process and introduce readers to the floats that will glide along the Tournament of Roses Parade on Jan. 1, 2020.
The barns and decorating sites were pretty packed and the decorators were working furiously to get the dry dec on. I managed to fit in two conversations, one with Erik C. Andersen and Linda Cozakos at Burbank Tournament of Roses Association., and one with Harry Gill and Minu Singh at the Sikh American float in the Phoenix Decorating Company barn.
Photos in Gallery A were taken on Dec. 28 and 29, and include AES and five self-built floats (we didn’t go down to the Downey float barn). Gallery B was taken on Dec. 30 at Phoenix Decorating Company. Gallery C was also taken on Dec. 30, at Fiesta Parade Floats.
Deco Week Gallery A
Sierra Madre Rose Float Assn., La Cañada Flintridge Tournament of Roses Assn., AES, Cal Poly Universities, South Pasadena Rose Float Assn., Burbank Rose Float Assn.
The Rose Examiner dropped in on the three float barns last Friday and Saturday to see the progress of the creations at the commercial builders and to talk to some of the folks doing the decorating. The 130th Tournament of Roses Parade happens on Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019, so the decorators—almost all volunteers—were busy cutting statice, powdering rice, gluing on flowers, and filling vials.
Be sure to check out the gallery below to see the progress all those volunteers were making.
Making the rounds at Phoenix Decorating Company
Our trip started off with a bang at Phoenix Decorating Company in Irwindale. We had just walked in the door when a sound like an I-beam hitting the floor split the air. Those cavernous float barns echo, so it turned out it wasn’t as bad as it sounded. There had been a small explosion under the Trader Joe’s float. The folks at Phoenix reacted immediately, with crew chiefs hurrying the decorators off the scaffolding and away from the float.
“Go back to your floats, go back to your floats!” the other volunteers were ordered. Everyone complied, because after all, those floats had to be covered with flowers in less than four days.
We asked a man who had been waiting to work on the Kiwanis float if it was scary. “It certainly was,” he said. Another man suggested that the sulphur-scented smoke we noticed might well be just dust and glue, and we returned to our tour of the floats
At the Farmers Insurance float, “A Carousel of Experience,” we met Ryan Young, a Philadelphia transplant. He’s only been in Pasadena for a few months, and already he was fully into the experience of decorating a float.
“I didn’t realize the scale,” he said, comparing the TV version and the real thing. “It’s neat to see it coming together.”
Young works in procurement for Farmers, which is a good match for his role on the float. He said his job is to be a runner, getting whatever anyone working on the float needs.
At the United Sikh Mission float, “A Divine Melody Resonates in All,” we ran into creative director Minu Singh, whom we spoke with last year. The float features a giant rabab, which she said was the first Sikh instrument. It was used by Guru Nanak to spread his message of the oneness of all though his poems and songs.
“Everything in our holy book is music,” Singh said. “Every time we congregate, it’s about singing.” She spoke of an “eternal cosmic symphony.” “Every bit of creation is part of the symphony,” she said.
A few blocks north at Fiesta Parade Floats
We got to Fiesta Parade Floats around lunch time, and most of the volunteers were up on the floats or scaffolds so we stuck to taking pictures. We did notice that there were a couple towering humans looking down from the decks, though.
Lono, the Hawaiian god of music and peace and the deity associated with the fertile lands of the Hawaiian Islands stands at the front of “Rhythms of Paradise,” the Dole Packaged Foods float. Stella Rosa lets the genie out of the (wine) bottle with “Taste of Magic.” (Others are on the American Armenian float at Phoenix and AES’ 24 Hour Fitness float.)
“Harmony Through Union,” the first entry from the Chinese American Heritage Foundation, doesn’t have a whole human, but it does have two spectacularly huge arms, one holding a mallet and the other a golden spike to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the historic meeting of the eastern and western portions of the Transcontinental Railroad in Promontory, Utah on May 10, 1869, and to celebrate the contributions of immigrants.
Previously used by Phoenix Decorating Company, Rosemont Pavilion now holds the AES floats for final decorating, as well as Cal Poly Universities and the FTD vehicle decorating. We were able to strike up a couple conversations at the floats. Check back after the Rose Parade for more about the four vehicles that will carry the celebrities in the parade.
At the Cal Poly float, “Far Out Frequencies,” we were given a California Grown sticker, which indicates that 85 percent of the floral material on the float was grown in California. Denise Godfrey was there with her daughter Emma McGregor. Their family business, Olive Hill Greenhouses, was founded by Godfrey’s parents in 1973. They have been supplying indoor plants to Cal Poly for about four years.
At the Chipotle Mexican Grill float, “Cultivate a Better World,” we found Russ Wimmer and Aida Bueno busily mixing spices to cover the float. And that is mostly what will cover the float. Wimmer told us that Chipotle insisted that only the 51 ingredients used at their restaurants can be used on the floats.
Red is created with a mixture of fresh chili pepper flakes and chili powder. The wood is brown rice instead of the usual paper bark, and juniper berries, oregano, lemon leaf, and corn husks are seen throughout the float. Baskets laid out around the deck like a vegetable stand will be filled with fresh produce. The only roses will be a red edging around the bottom and white spray roses tucked into a garland of red chili peppers. The Tournament of Roses granted a variance to allow a wheelchair lift at the back to remain uncovered.
Deco Week used to a big deal in Pasadena, with two warehouses and a pop-up pavilion filled with floats and cars being decorated for the Rose Parade. The last five or six days before the Rose Parade, folks could drop into the float barns and see dozens of creations getting their final flowering as fresh materials were fastened to floats.
With the last Pasadena builder moving out of town in 2017, there isn’t much decorating left to see in the Crown City, but the Tournament of Roses and partners have gotten creative in providing plenty of things for locals and out-of-towners to see and do. There are two really new things going on this year.
AES, a powerhouse company that builds set pieces for Disney Resorts and other theme parks, produces Hollywood events, and of course designs and builds floats, is moving its floats from Azusa to Pasadena and parking them in Rosemont Pavilion for final flowering during Deco Week. (Phoenix Decorating Company, which used to build there, moved to shiny new headquarters in Irwindale last year.) FTD will again decorate the Rose Parade vehicles in Rosemont.
Rosemont Pavilion, located in the Arroyo just south of the Rose Bowl, is open for viewing from Dec. 28-31. Tickets are available for $15 on site or from Sharp Seating. Floats that will be in the barn are Universal – How to Train Your Dragon, Blue Diamond Almonds, China Airlines, Chipotle, 24 Hour Fitness, and Cal Poly Universities. Tournament vehicles are the Mayor’s fire truck and the President’s, Grand Marshal, and Hall of Fame cars.
The second thing is the brand-spanking new Sip & Savor event, produced by AES, on Jackie Robinson Memorial Field next to Rosemont Pavilion. It looks to be a pretty big event, with food, wine, craft beer, music, and six large-screen TV monitors for football fans. For $15, a person can see the floats and enjoy the entertainment at Sip & Savor. Taste tickets are extra; pricing and the growing list of culinary sponsors are on the website. Dates are Dec. 28-30, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Live on Green is returning to the Pasadena Convention Center Dec. 29-31 for the fourth year, and will have
plenty of activities for youngsters and grown-ups. Everything except the food and beverages is free for all. The 2018 schedule will be up on their site soon.
(opens in a new window)Farther afield, The Bloc Plaza in Downtown Los Angeles hosts the second annual Rose Bowl Bash. It’s a celebration of college football and the Rose Bowl Game at Hope and 7th Street. The event is free and includes family-friendly interactive games, Rose Bowl Game merchandise, a beer garden, entertainment, food trucks, and participation from team bands and cheer squads. The 7th Street Metro Center Station is on the corner, making it convenient to take the Metro instead of driving. Dates are Dec. 30, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Dec. 31, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Other events during Deco Week include Equestfest and Bandfest, which we have already posted.
“The Melody of Life” is the theme for the 2019 Tournament of Roses. The central events, the 130th Rose Parade and 105th Rose Bowl Game, are held on Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019. Subscribe to “The Rose Examiner” to get news and articles throughout the year.