By JOSHUA NUESCA
Every Jan. 1 for the past 128 years, the Tournament of Roses Parade never fails to inspire millions around the globe through the elaborate displays of floral creativity and the sound of skilled marching bands parading down Colorado Boulevard. Each float must be covered in a form of natural material whether it be flower petals, evergreen branches or paper bark in an attempt to craft a story that embraces the 2016 parade theme, “Find Your Adventure.” With over 50 float entries from large corporations to small organizations, each of the floats require thousands of hours of work and planning in order to properly convey its message and hopefully win a trophy from the parade organizers.
In the weeks leading up to the New Year’s celebration, thousands of volunteers descended on Pasadena to participate in the decorating of the floats. Multiple decorating sites exist throughout the area with each asking for volunteers to sign up for various shifts and jobs to take on the massive task of decorating all the floats in time for the parade. Phoenix Decorating Company is just one of various organizers that brings the community together to decorate float entries and this year they were able to garner over 5,000 volunteers by collaborating with Kiwanis International members ranging from middle school students all the way up to adult volunteers. This volunteer opportunity attracted members from all over California with some traveling from Fresno to take part in the opportunity to decorate floats.
Many tasks were delegated to volunteers with only a select few being placed on floats for actual application of flowers or other organic materials. While some volunteers were tasked with the duty of cutting individual roses to be placed in vials containing cold water, others were tasked with gently sanding paper bark or cutting flower petals. Once all of the organic materials are prepped, volunteers are able to climb onto scaffolding reaching up to 20 feet in the air to meticulously glue individual flowers to the float’s surface or work with sponges to coat the float with pulverized flower petals.
Ella Chang, a Redlands East Valley senior was able to take part in this experience and says, “Volunteering there is so much fun. Not only do I get to put together such a fascinating float, but I also get to work with so many nice people from all over the state. The feeling of working on something together really pulls everyone together, even if we just met. After all the hours we spent on the float, seeing the finished product in the parade was exciting.” With many volunteers working 8 hour shifts and coming from San Diego, Los Angeles, Fresno, Long Beach and many other locations, team work and a positive attitude is necessary to make it an enjoyable experience.
For more information regarding the Tournament of Roses Parade and future volunteer opportunities, visit http://www.tournamentofroses.com/.