Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Photo Essay: Rose Parade 2014 Floats, In Progress

The Rose Parade is to LA what the Thanksgiving Day Parade is to New York City.

It's kind of a big deal.

The Thanksgiving Day Parade - like New Year's Eve in Times Square - is just one of those touristy things I never did while living in New York. And although I'm nearing my three year anniversary in LA, I still haven't seen the Rose Parade. I'm not sure I can handle the hassle or the crowds - the same factors that kept me away from the New York parade route and Times Square.

But this year, I'd become particularly curious about the Rose Parade, perhaps after having toured the Rose Bowl Stadium and spent a bit more time in Pasadena.

I knew that the floats would be parked for public viewing in Pasadena after the parade, but I'd heard that they'd be a bit haggard by that point. So, reticent to commit to joining the throngs at the parade itself, but eager to get a look, I visited the Rose Palace, one of three float decorating places in Pasadena open to the public while the floats are in progress.



The Rose Palace is basically a giant warehouse where all the decorating happens for floats representing non-profits, for-profit organizations, and local LA County municipalities.



It is full of volunteers, from children performing community service to the elderly.



In addition to the Rose Parade's theme "Dreams Come True," each float has its own individual theme...



...some built by commercial float-builders...



...and others built by self-built organizations.



They all rely on volunteers to do much of the decorating...



...from painting to glueing...



...to inserting loads of flowers - not just roses - into the foam beds of the floats.



Unlike the Thanksgiving Day Parade floats and balloons...



...there were no commercial cartoon characters here...



...only scenic landscapes featuring non-anthropomorphized wildlife...



...and some pretty elaborate flora.



That doesn't mean they were any less fancy.



Even in the decorating phase, you feel a lot of pageantry here...



...and a lot of adorable faces...



...worth seeing up close.



The real draw for me was getting to see the Glendale float...


courtesy of City of Glendale, CA Community Services & Parks

...whose "Let's Be Neighbors" theme pays tribute to Glendale's natural open spaces.



Even in progress, this year's float (their 100th entry into the parade) is a wonderland of local inhabitants...



...like deer and squirrel.



I always love visiting construction sites (and factory tours) to see how things are made.



And, in the case of Glendale's float, I got to witness Glendale Mayor Dave Weaver act as crew chief for the construction project.



But among the coyote and raccoon...



...and hawk and skunk...



...there is really one true celebrity of the Glendale Rose Parade float:



...Meatball, the California Black Bear that came down to visit Glendale from the Angeles National Forest, and just couldn't stay away.

I came all the way from Beverly Hills, just to see him. I hope to visit the real Meatball at the sanctuary he now calls home sometime in 2014.

And maybe one day I'll get to ride on one of those floats. (In the case of Glendale, you have to be a Glendale resident.)

Happy 2014!

Further Reading:
Why Glendale's float features Meatball, and where he is now (KPCC)

Related Post:
Photo Essay: Rose Bowl Stadium, Renovated Again, and Open for Tours!