Decorating a Rose Parade Float

28 12 2011
My two daughters, two of their friends, and I went to Pasadena yesterday and did a very Southern California kind of thing – we helped decorate a Rose Parade float! My Youngest Daughter is a student at Cal Poly Pomona and the two Cal Poly schools (the other one is in San Luis Obispo) have a student designed and built float in the Rose Parade every year. So Youngest Daughter got us in to volunteer this year for the first time. Yesterday I learned all about the glamorous (not) life of Rose float decorating!

This is me cutting statice flowers into tiny little bits.

I spent something over three hours carefully cutting  little purple flowers off of dried statice. That was interspersed with picking through the flowers bits I cut off to snag any green stuff out with tweezers. Yep, over three hours! But, we discovered that while cutting little dried flowers and picking out tiny bits of leaf with tweezers sounds like the grunt job, it was actually the really GOOD job! For a few minutes I tried to escape it and my job then became hauling big tubs of eucalyptus branches around. My Youngest Daughter and her two friends got to glue very thin sheets of seaweed to the float, something that started becoming annoying due to the smell of the seaweed. My Eldest Daughter got to get into an awkward position and stick white rice to glue she spread on a wall of a building on the float. She had to lean over a gap in order to do this.


My Eldest Daughter is using tweezers to pick any and all offending bits out of the cut flowers.

However, in spite of its less than glamorous nature, all five of us agreed that we had a good time and really enjoyed seeing the “behind the scenes” aspect of Rose float decorating. I think it was especially enjoyable because the Cal Poly rose float is a student endeavor. I found out some interesting facts related to Rose float building as I cut the little flowers. Cal Poly grows their own statice and dries it in a lab room on campus. They cut those dried  flowers in to little bits (like I was doing) all year-long in order to have enough. Some of the flowers are put through a blender to create purple or blue dust. In other places on the float it is used just as we made it, little tiny bits of flowers. The Cal Poly float has a super hero theme this year. The woman super hero has lovely red lips which I discovered are covered with freeze-dried strawberry dust. I walked by just as they were applying it and it smelled yummy!

Here is a shot of my Youngest Daughter gluing seaweed to the window edges of a high rise building on the float.

Every visible surface of a Rose float has to be covered in natural material and we saw all kinds of different things they were using on the float: ground coffee beans, brown coffee fibers (used for hair), ground dried pink bougainvilla flowers, white statice, parsley, the white rice I mentioned before, and I even saw a bag of kitty litter that is made of wheat chaff.  They weren’t starting to decorate with the fresh material yet as all of those flowers have to be cut and put in those little florist vials of water before being placed on the float. They were just about to start that process as we left, filled with the goodness of having helped the Cal Poly schools with their Rose Float. We all agreed that we want to do it again next year!




3 responses

29 12 2011
Paprika Furstenburg

This was fascinating to read. Thanks for sharing.

29 12 2011

So glad you liked it! It was very interesting having that “behind the scenes” experience.

29 12 2011

Wow!! I will look for the float when the Rose Parade comes on.

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