Brandt Dunlap Steers the Pride of South Pasadena With Grace

Brandt Dunlap
Photo by Joseph Ruiz

After roughly 20 years of working as a volunteer on the South Pasadena Rose Parade Float, Brandt Dunlap found himself behind the wheel Monday morning, steering his way up Orange Grove Boulevard and down Colorado, completing the course in four hours with animator Bryan Sadler and Sound and Hydrolics man Steve Fillingham by his side. He proved to be the perfect man for the job, remaining unbothered that there were no opportunities for breaks. “Once you’re in, that’s it” said Dunlap, “you’re in for the entire time.”

Dunlap had never driven a float until June and took the float for its first serious test run during the July 4 Festival of Balloons Parade, when, around Aro Latin, it began to have electrical problems and Dunlap was forced to pull out of the parade.

Dunlap and his crew didn’t experience any such difficulties in the real parade, instead enjoying what Dunlap described as approximately twice the visibility and room inside.

That visibility may have helped him observe the changing scenes outside. “In the grand stands there was much more mass. Then, as we headed down Colorado, the crowd was scattered out with people on both sides. From Marengo through PCC, there were more grand stands. We could see lots of people in the windows and on top of buildings. And after PCC, once we crossed Allen, it was like that all the way into the 210.”

The 2018 float had six different types of roses and roughly five other floral variations; 16 or 17 different ingredients ranging from kidney beans, cranberry seeds, silver leaf, eucalyptus bark, ever greens and seaweed to orange lentil, coconut flakes, and ground cinnamon.

From here it’s a quick turnaround for the Tournament of Roses Committee, as the 2019 Rose Parade theme is expected to be announced in the next few weeks, meaning the committee will be accepting float design submissions beginning sometime in late-January, early-February.

But before that, this year’s float must be deconstructed over the next few weeks.

“It’s probably the greatest feeling in the world,” said Dunlap, “because you can rip it apart in 20 hours. It takes all year to design and build, and just that much time to take it all down. In a way, it’s kind of celebrating what we did while talking about what we can improve.”

Dunlap acknowledges that there is disappointment among the committee that South Pasadena did not win an award in 2018. “We were definitely disappointed,” said the former South Pas High Softball Coach. “We thought we put out a very whimsical, beautiful float that was worthy of winning.

“But once we get away from our egos and see that we represented the City of South Pasadena very well, we are really proud of this year’s team and this year’s effort.”