Anne Muller took a long look at the City of South Pasadena’s float that took part in Monday’s 128th Rose Parade before playing down her role while praising the work of those who built and decorated it.
A humble Muller was the artist behind the design, shaking off the compliments as if to say, “Oh, shucks, that’s all I did,” while passing off the success to others.
Volunteers worked around the clock on New Year’s Eve in anticipation of the final judging by Tournament of Roses officials who were at the float site early Sunday morning to give South Pasadena’s entry a thorough inspection, before considering it for one of 24 awards from a wide variety of categories.
Quietly looking on was Muller, awed by those who took her design on paper and made it a crowd pleaser, especially by those who had a hand in creating it. “I did the drawing, but they (builders and decorators) brought it to life,” she said. “These are the most amazing, hard-working, dedicated people you’ll ever find. It has been an absolute joy to be a part of this.”
A professional artist, among Muller’s most respected works are the creative invitations she designs for the South Pasadena Educational Foundation’s annual fundraiser, Parti Gras, one of the city’s biggest events each year.
Her design for the 2017 float, and the finished product with all the floral in place, captured the eye of judges, one commenting Sunday on his way back to the van TOR officials travel in to make the rounds to working float sites, “It really looks great!”
Indeed it did, said a smiling Muller, who lived in South Pasadena for 13 years before moving to Altadena recently with her husband, Toby, and their children, continued to admire the float, letting out her emotions on how she felt about the final product after the TOR judges left the scene.
“It makes me cry,” she said. “It’s not like I was here (guiding the process) saying, ‘You have to do this and do that.’ It’s the fact that they took one thing and created a (masterpiece). They really did it.”
Making his departure from the float site in a giant tent behind the War Memorial Building was SPTOR Construction Chair Paul Abbey, headed home to get some rest Sunday morning before returning later in the evening to join volunteers, ready to drive the float to the parade’s starting area on Orange Grove Avenue.
“I’m ecstatic,” said Abbey, looking at the finished float, which broke down due to an electrical short on the parade route Monday between Pasadena City College and Sierra Madre Boulevard and had to be towed to the finish area. “
It marked the second straight year the city’s float broke down.
Local float builders will fix the problem as they already look ahead to next year. “ I think our float is cool,” said Abbey on the eve of the Rose Parade. Construction built a good one, but Chris Metcalf and Janet (Benjamin) just knocked it out of the park with the decoration design. It’s all about the floral, and this is absolutely wonderful.”
Benjamin, who serves as both the SPTOR committee and decoration chair, worked closely with Metcalf to unveil another floral masterpiece that, with help from a talented team of volunteers, depicts a “Never Give Up” attitude, creating the age old Aesop’s fable “The Tortoise and the Hare.”
Seeking some rest herself after spending countless hours at the float site in recent months, Benjamin called it one of the best floats ever produced by those who pitched into the effort. “The float is 80 percent fresh flowers, and we put them all on in about 2 ½ days,” she said. “The crew was amazing.”
For Muller, who began watching the Rose Parade as a child, it was a lifelong dream come true to have her design represented in the prestigious event. “I told my children, ‘Even if I never ride on a float, design another float, please take my ashes when I die and put them on a float so they can ride down Colorado Boulevard in the parade. The parade means that much to me.”