City Float Committee To Receive Compensation For 2019 Parade Fire

Some of the volunteers who built and decorated South Pasadena’s award-winning “Three Little Birds” entry pose in front of the float Dec. 31, 2018, one day before the Jan. 1, 2019 Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade. Photo by Sally Kilby

South Pasadena’s Tournament of Roses Committee (SPTOR) will have $7,500 more in the bank this year than last.

This unexpected windfall comes from the Pasadena Tournament of Roses (TOR). The funds compensate SPTOR for what happened at the Jan. 1, 2019 parade after a small fire broke out on a float along the route just ahead of South Pasadena’s entry.

Flames erupted on the Chinese American Friendship Foundation’s float as the entries traveled north on Orange Grove Boulevard. The floats behind the affected one, including South Pasadena’s, were not allowed to move forward while emergency measures were underway.

Significant delay ensued. South Pasadena’s “Three Little Birds” float, number 85 of 88 entries listed in the program, did not appear on live television coverage.

In addition, due to the large gap in the line of entries, many spectators believed the parade was over. As a result, they left the sidewalks and stands in droves.

Courtney Dunlap, president of SPTOR, reported at the group’s June 4 meeting that the committee would be compensated for its losses. She said she recently met with David Eads, TOR executive director and CEO, about the incident.

“The TOR held meetings, and they approved compensation of $5,000 to us,” she told the committee members. “They realized that South Pasadena needed even more help, and they are waiving the city’s $2,500 entry fee for 2020.”

“It was a very nice surprise,” Dunlap said.

The TOR also offered to help the committee pay for a fire-suppression system that is now required by the TOR and the Pasadena Fire Department as a result of the fire.

“The TOR wants to know all our costs [for installing the fire system], and they are looking at paying for half,” said James Jontz at the meeting. The longtime committee member was reporting on a recent float-builders meeting where the new regulations were announced.

He described the equipment necessary to create a firewall and said installing it is “doable.”

Although the TOR is compensating the group, it has still not issued a report on the fire.

According to the organization, a statement cannot be released until it holds a meeting with Tim Estes of Fiesta Parade Floats. He is the builder of the float that caught fire.

“The meeting has been postponed several times and is scheduled for the end of June,” Candy Carlson, TOR’s communication spokesperson, said in a June 3 email to this reporter. South Pasadena sponsors the parade’s oldest self-built float. One of six of its type, it is constructed and decorated entirely by volunteers. Two dozen committee positions are listed on the SPTOR website, and hundreds of other volunteers are recruited to help. Required funding for necessary equipment, supplies, flowers and other organic materials totals more than $100,000 annually.

The revenue comes primarily from four annual fundraisers organized by the committee with support from the city and businesses. The first, held this year on June 15, is a golf tournament at the Arroyo Seco Golf Course. The second is a vintage car show along Mission Street from Fair Oaks Avenue to Meridian Avenue. This year’s is scheduled for September 15. The third is a December raffle for Rose Parade and Rose Bowl tickets. The last is called the Crunch Time party. It is always held at the end of December, “crunch time” for decorators, at the War Memorial Building. The building is adjacent to the building site, and party attendees can watch the float being decorated as the January 1 deadline approaches.

Donations can be sent to SPTOR, P.O. Box 3662, South Pasadena, CA 91031 or online (www. through PayPal. Supporters can also donate through Amazon Smile. The nonprofit organization then receives 0.5% of eligible purchases at no cost to the purchaser. Those interested in receiving news about the progress of the float can join the email list by emailing contact@sptor. org. Float news is regularly posted on the SPTOR Facebook page.