At the start of each new year, South Pasadena’s intricate, handmade float dazzles the crowd as it makes its way down Colorado Boulevard in the annual Pasadena Tournament of Roses float parade. A wonderful way to kick off the new year, the float consistently sticks to the theme of the parade and continues to represent the city of South Pasadena well.
This year’s float, in tune with the parade’s overall theme of “Echoes of Success,” told the classic story of the “Tortoise and the Hare,” with the title “Never Give Up.” With organic materials such as locally gathered eucalyptus and roses in 43 different shades, the vibrant float had a unique design and lively presence.
The construction of the float each year would be impossible without the dedication and effort put in by countless volunteers. Fred Nichols from Austin, Texas traveled all the way to South Pasadena with his wife to watch the parade and help construct the float this year, among several others who came from out of state to contribute. “My wife has always watched the parade on TV, so I surprised her with tickets to see it this year. We contacted the South Pasadena Tournament of Roses organization to help volunteer as well and the experience has been wonderful,” said Nichols.
Janet Benjamin, chairperson of the South Pasadena Tournament of Roses Committee, added: “We have had over 150 volunteers this year. Many come back year after year or come from out of state. For many it’s on their bucket list to help us out.”
Volunteers, many of whom make it a bucket list item, come from various organizations around the city. “Helping out with decorating the float this year was a lot of fun. It will be so exciting to see the final result on TV at the parade!” said Ava Planer, a South Pasadena High student, who volunteered with fellow delegates from the South Pasadena San Marino Youth and Government delegation. The endless support from these volunteers throughout the course of the year is what contributes immensely to the success of the float year after year.
The float building process, which spans over the entire year, involves fundraisers and donations from the community that are necessary to its success. The float is 123 years old, and is the oldest self built float in the parade, which means that the South Pasadena Tournament of Roses Committee self-fundraisers and constructs its own float each year. “We start in February with choosing which float we are going to build, and start the design process in March.
In May, we start the actual construction process and work every other Saturday. Then, in September, we work Saturdays and Thursdays by sculpting and creating figures. In November, we begin painting the float, and after Thanksgiving we start laying the materials on it. Early December is when we begin laying the floral, and we lay the roses on the float in the final days,” said Construction Chair Paul Abbey of the year-long process.
The South Pasadena float, constructed by the hands of countless volunteers contributing to its success was seen by thousands as it rolled down Colorado Boulevard in the 128th Rose Parade on Monday, January 2 – not January 1 – as a result of the Tournament’s “Never on Sunday” rule.
Unfortunately, for those who toiled on it over the past 12 months, the float broke down beyond Pasadena City College and had to be towed to the finish area for public viewing.