January 09, 2024

Photo Essay: A Last Look At Two Volunteer-Built Floats of the 2024 Rose Parade

I was feeling a little bit of regret over not attending "FloatFest," the post-Rose Parade showcase of floats where you get up close to them and literally stop to smell the roses. 

But then I saw that a couple of the float builders were displaying their work for the public to continue to enjoy for even longer after the Rose Parade—and both were standouts. 

There was the Flower Power "Cool Bus" from La Cañada Flintridge Float Association...

...the 2024 Golden State Award-winner for Most Outstanding Depiction of Life in California...
...with its botanical band of groovy 60s musicians...
...singing, strumming, and banging the drum to the beat of every tune. 

It's always neat to see all of the natural materials up close... especially since roses comprise just a fraction of the blooms that are used. 
There are also seeds (like cranberry seeds and flaxseeds), beans, and even split peas—all part of the "dry decorating" that happens before Deco Week when the fresh flowers get put into vials of water and then attached to the floats. 

Amazingly, while the Flower Power float was parked at Memorial Park in La Cañada Flintridge, they let us climb up onto the bus!

It was a real "behind the scenes" look I would've never gotten at FloatFest.

And if I'd gone to FloatFest, I wouldn't have felt compelled to come to La Cañada for a last look at this float. 

It was so fun to see the flower band up close and essentially at eye level...

...instead of gazing up at it from down below (or merely zooming in with my camera to see it from the bleachers). 

I was even close enough to hear the "squeaky squeaky" of a flapping animatronic jaw.
Some folks come to see the float because they missed the parade, while others come to take home some of the flowers off of it as part of its dismantling. But the float association had the music blasting—and for me, it was almost like a mini party. 
The day before, I'd also gone to see the Downey Rose Float Association's "Rhythm of the Caribbean"—another self-built float—before it rode off into the sunset. 

But by the time I got to where it was parked at the Embassy Suites in Downey, one of the pink flamingos had already lost its head.

And it was already being positioned to exit the parking area and drive out onto Firestone Boulevard (despite the fact it had been promoted as being on view until 9 p.m. that night).
It felt like a proper goodbye for a float, which is built to move—and not just sit there in a stationary position. (That's one of the reasons why I prefer to go to the actual Rose Parade rather than just the FloatFest.)

But floats aren't like any other street-legal vehicle. They have practically zero clearance, a wide turning radius, and all kinds of stuff sticking up out of the top. 

They may be shorter and narrower than a Mack Truck, but they're no easier to maneuver.

Fortunately, that meant its departure from Embassy Suites was a pretty slow process... me plenty of time to admire it from afar...

...though I didn't get up close to see any details that helped it earn the Wrigley Legacy Award for best floral presentation...

...before it drove off on its wilted funeral procession back to the float barn.

Until 2025, Tournament of Roses!
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