Adventures in Float Decorating

Adventures in Float Decorating

They finally arrived!

The long awaited VIP (Volunteer In Pasadena?) passes for Downtown Dad and me to the Irwindale warehouse where we’ll be decorating a Rose Parade Float later this month!VIPCROP

Sounds super elegant and swanky right? Don’t you just wish you could go along? Well, here’s some great news… even if you can’t come with us, you can enjoy it vicariously right here, because I’ll be telling you all about our trip from Frigid Fargo to Balmy LA, and our adventures while there.

  • We won’t be traveling around in a limo, or a convertible even, just a compact rental car;
  • We aren’t staying in a luxury hotel, but we will be trying out AirBnB;
  • We won’t be hitting too many touristy meccas, but we will be on the lookout for quirky or out of the way destinations. In fact, if you know us, you won’t be surprised to hear that we will be visiting at least one cemetery;
  • We aren’t counting on running into any celebrities, but you never know, it IS LA after all!

Let me give you the backstory on how this whole idea came about…

As a very young child, my family lived in and around Pasadena, but my parents decided to relocate North to the relatively small town of Santa Barbara when I started school. We occasionally would go back to visit relatives still in LA, but my parents, having been locals, avoided that entire area during the holidays. So, even though my cousins attended UCLA, one of them even was a finalist for Rose Queen, the Rose Parade was something we watched on television, never in person.

Every year, as I watched the parade, I’d marvel at the spectacle and pageantry of those flower covered floats.  And every year I’d say to myself, ‘someday I’m going to decorate one of those.’ So, last year, as I pondered my Bucket List for 2013, I ran the idea of doing just that past Downtown Dad, and much to my surprise, he was all for it!

But how does one go about getting on a volunteer crew?

First, I found the Tournament of Roses Facebook page, and posted that question on their wall.  I was referred by more than one person to Beverly at Fiesta Parade Floats. An email inquiry to her was swiftly answered. She gave me a time line of events, and what I’d need to do, and when to do it. That was in January, and now, at last, I have the coveted “passes.”

In the letter that accompanied our passes, it says we are only required to sign on for one 6 hour shift. Well, we will be there for 6 days, so we’d really like to take on as many shifts as they’ll let us, you know, to get the feel of how it all works! But, we don’t want to spend the whole time working! We’ve identified a few places we must go, or must see.

  • Neighborhoods in Duarte and South Pasadena I literally have not set foot in for half a century!
  • Griffith Park
  • The former site of my Grandpa “Doc” Hinkley’s Bowling Supply
  • Mountain View Cemetery
  • Those Hollywood Lights from those Hollywood Hills – or any scenario from Bob Seger’s Stranger In Town Album
  • Disneyland/Knott’s Berry Farm/Universal Studios?

If you have any good advice on where to go/eat/stop/explore, please leave comments! Or, if you’re in the area, come meet us for a beer!

Let the adventures begin…


  • Posted December 14, 2013 10:59 pm 0Likes
    by Smalltown Me

    I will make a trip to the area for sure!

  • Posted December 16, 2013 11:20 pm 0Likes
    by Aunt Snow

    Oh, my goodness! You’ll have a marvelous time! If you are spending it in Duarte and Pasadena, you’ll be out east, which is not close to where I am on the coast in Santa Monica/Malibu, but there are fun things to do. Between Duarte and Pasadena is the San Gabriel Valley, which, if you’re into Asian food, has the best Chinese and Vietnamese food in the entire US! So if you go out to dinner, get Chinese! Look up the archive columns of Jonathan Gold in the LA times and LA weekly for reviews.

    If you do come by the beach, Santa Monica is great, and visit the Pier.

  • Posted December 17, 2013 9:45 pm 0Likes
    by Victoria

    The Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Gardens is in Arcadia, California — next door to Pasadena/Duarte, and well worth a visit if you enjoy that sort of thing. Also, the Huntington Library and Botanic Garden is close by in San Marino. Both terrific!

    Santa Anita Park is also in Arcadia and will be in session during your visit. Can be a fun way to spend an afternoon if you like horse racing. Beautiful historic park and they also offer tours on weekend mornings.

    Hope you have a wonderful time!

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