Viewing the 2014 Rose Parade Float Decorating
Our family started off 2013 by viewing the Rose Parade floats last year after the whole world saw the magnificent floats. We decided to spend the last weekend of the year to see these spectacular floats being decorated as they got ready for the annual parade on January 1. The Tournament of Roses Parade has been dubbed as “America’s New Year Celebration”. Thousands of people flock to Pasadena, California (near Los Angeles) to watch while it’s being simultaneously broadcasted on multiple TV networks to the US and the world.
What makes the Rose Parade unique and special is that the floats’ surface have to be covered with natural and organic materials usually following that year’s theme. Artificial flowers or artificially colored materials are prohibited. It’s amazing what the float designers come up with using millions of seeds, plants, grass, bark, nuts, fruits, vegetables and of course, flowers and roses. This was one of the floats from last year.
The 125th Rose Parade presented by Honda once again take on the 5.5 mile route featuring colorful floral floats, marching bands and equestrian units from around the county.This year’s theme is “Dreams Come True”. We visited three locations in Pasadena and saw the hard work and effort put into creating these floats but was also a wonderful preview of some of the 45 floats.
Our first location was the Rose Palace which was a giant warehouse or “float barn” that housed about 10 floats including the cities of Los Angeles and Beverly Hills. We couldn’t get too close to the floats but saw them decorating from a walkway above. There was so much activity going on and the volunteers were all busy decorating.
Many of the floats are built by professional float building companies and take almost a year to build which also include hydraulics and animatronics. During the last few days leading to the parade, many rely on volunteers to put on the finishing touches. It was interesting to see that the floats were already painted and guided what type of materials to use for cover. This was the Shriner’s Hospitals float called “Love to the Rescue” The Bear will eventually be covered with mums.
One float that caught our eyes were these large animals simulating an African safari by Western Asset called “So Close Yet So Far Away”. They will eventually be covered with some sort of natural material.
My daughter loved these Owls in graduation attire.
Our second location was at the Brookside Pavilion by the Rose Bowl. After the parade, a huge championship football game between Michigan State and Stanford universities is heavily anticipated. We already found many tents and a hub of activity around the stadium.
We liked this location a lot since there were food vendors and more booths. My daughter even got to ride around a mini Air Force jet courtesy of the US Air Force. Her brother decided to stay in the car and was so disappointed missing this.
The other great thing about this tent was we were able to see the decorators and volunteers up close. There were only three floats here but they were shaping up to be some of the best the parade will have. We also saw many of the vintage cars that will transport some of the dignitaries – decorated with flowers, of course.
The parade has come a long way when it first featured horse carriages adorned with flowers over 100 years ago. There were plenty of flowers in buckets and vials waiting to be placed in designated places. It smelled like a floral garden in here.
The first float was by the California Polytechnic Universities which was called Bedtime Buccaneers. I can imagine this as many kids’ favorite float. The float is 100% student designed and engineered. We were told that 90% of the flowers from this float were from the farmlands of California and donated to them.
The pirate bear on the flag was being decorated with cotton.
We found this lady who was applying chopped up parsley to the float sign. No, she did’t have to chop it up, it came in fine grain for her to glue on.
These girls were meticulously applying split peas one by one to this tree and dragon that is part of the map. I can’t even begin to imagine how many hours it would take them to complete this float.
This dog was already covered with some type of grass and almost ready to go on the float. The level of details on these floats were just astonishing.
We loved these adorable aliens in Public Storage’s “Adventures in Space” float. They will eventually be covered with flowers. The white spaces on the floats must also be covered with an organic substance.
This float is supposed to do something innovative during the parade so we’re going to be keeping a close eye on it.
The last float here was from Singpoli (an investment firm). It looked like a set of elaborate Chinese temples with two mythical flying horses about to take off.
I can’t wait to see this elaborate float and its animated features.
We found volunteers ironing corn husks to get all the water out. They needed to be as smooth as possible so other people can shape them.
Our final destination was the Rosemont Pavilion nearby which was another warehouse. We adored the gingerbread and candy house from Rotary International. They used cinnamon sticks to line the walls and we could smell its sweet scent from above.
My daughter was drawn to the City of Alhambra’s monsters. Their hair was made of some kind of grain and grass.
This was a first for us and a way to show my daughter what the volunteer opportunities entail. She wants to do it and I’ve never gotten around to doing it despite living near Pasadena for years. My daughter and I hope to volunteer next year so stay tuned for a different perspective and some behind the scenes. We may be gluing cranberries to floats like these.
One of our New Year’s Day tradition is watching the Rose Parade from the comforts of our home. But, we highly recommend seeing the post parade viewing of the floats. You can see the intricate details of the floats. Though this year, we really appreciated seeing all the effort, patience and dedication it takes to decorate these amazing floats through these previews.
Pre-viewing the Rose Parade Floats Basics and Tips
- Advance tickets to three Pasadena locations are available through Sharp Seating Company for $10 (children 5 and under are free). $10 covers all 3 locations. They’ll hole-punch your tickets. These are the three locations:
1. Rosemont Pavilion – 700 Seco Street, Pasadena
2. Brookside Pavilion (accessible to disabled visitors) – Lot I, south side of Rose Bowl Stadium
3. Rose Palace – 835 S. Raymond Avenue, Pasadena
- Tickets may also be purchased at the venues. Credit cards accepted. Note that ticket sales may stop when venue capacity is reached.
- Rose Bowl merchandise and food vendors available.
- There are various volunteer opportunities with the float builders and various communities and organizations from Dec. 26 -31. Most minimum age requirements are 13 but some accept 12 year olds which we’ll be looking for next year. Most require 8 hours of volunteer time. Check this Tournament of Roses website for some of the organizations seeking volunteers.
- For post-parade float viewing, check this website for shuttle areas. Do not attempt to park. The shuttles will get you there faster. Floats are on display for a day and a half. Admission is $10.