Sunday, January 6, 2013

Holidays Far From Home -- Rose Parade Float

Article published in RV Life and Travel E-zine 6 Jan 2013

This year Christmas was a travel day. We left our volunteer spot as campground hosts at Joshua Tree National Park and moved about ninety miles to our next adventure in Irwindale, CA where we spent a week decorating a Rose Parade float.

This activity has been on Michelle's bucket list for many years and we both looked forward to it. I knew nothing about how to get involved or who to contact, so the research and planning began on the worldwide web last spring. By the time our adventure began, I had accumulated a ton of information. I'll be happy to share it with anyone who is interested. Just leave a comment on this article.

Rose Parade floats are built by three companies and several private organizations. We chose to participate with the company Fiesta Parade Floats. This was not a WorKamping experience. The company allows volunteers who arrive in RVs or Towables to boondock in their parking lot -- no hookups. Also no free or discounted parade grandstand seating tickets -- forget that. Rose Parade ticketing is done by a different company.

Construction of a parade float begins many months earlier and the finishing work is done during the week between Christmas and New Year's eve. The unique feature of Rose Parade floats is that every exposed surface must be covered with something vegetable -- flowers, plants, seeds, etc. The week is known as "Decorator Week" and the work is all done by volunteers.

Fiesta Parade Floats built ten floats for the 2013 Rose Parade -- all in one building. We were assigned to work on the Dole Float. As with most of our adventures, we met a lot of people from all walks of life and all parts of the country. Only three were there in RVs. Some volunteers came from the local area and participate every year and most of the out-of-towners stayed in hotels. Surprisingly, many were fulfilling an item on their bucket list too.

At our age, we opted out of doing any of the work up on the scaffolding. We worked on parts that would be assembled into the float at the last minute and on sections of the float that could be worked from ground level. The work was detailed and sticky -- lots of glue. The company buys Elmer's glue by the 55 gallon drum.

As the week passed we got to be friends with several of the volunteers and we all got invested in the float as if it was our own. Watching it take shape from day to day became exciting, especially on the last couple days when the floral arrangements and roses were put on. Our float (the Dole float) contained over 8,000 roses each in a vial of water and individually mounted. It also included four waterfalls and a volcano with real fire. The red roses on the volcano representing hot lava flowing down the sides.

For Michelle, the thrill of the week was a visit by Josh Elliott the television journalist who is the news anchor for ABC's Good Morning America. He posed for a picture with Michelle who is a great fan of his.

Early in the morning of New Year's day we made the trip to Pasadena to watch the parade and were thrilled to learn that our float won the Sweepstakes award as the most beautiful float. The parade was great. We saw all of the floats with a new sense of appreciation. Wow! What a week. Happy New Year!

This stop was the farthest point west in our workamping trip that began last June in Ohio. Next week we start east to be back in Ohio by early April and then to Bar Harbor, ME by mid June. We have signed up for one month working with RV-Care-Vaners on a Habitat for Humanity project in New Mexico along the way. Roaming the country workamping as we go is becoming addictive and we are looking forward to 2013.

We were assigned to work on the Dole float

Much of the decorating is tedious detail

Josh Elliott from ABC's Good Morning America dropped by

Our work looked great in the parade.
The volcano in action was awesome