We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Seeing/Decorating Floats

Berkeley, California
Level Contributor
41 posts
14 reviews
Save Topic
Seeing/Decorating Floats

Looking through the posts on the Rose Parade, I thought it might be useful to have one place where information on the floats in consolidated. I've lived near Pasadena for most of my life, and I'm very involved in float decorating, so I have some suggestions for anyone next year who is interested in getting involved in this aspect of the parade.

Basics of floats: 3 major companies decorate floats- Phoenix, Fiesta, and AES. They often are contracted to build floats for organizations such as Trader Joe's, the Girl Scouts, and different Countries.

There are also many self-built floats, usually sponsored by volunteers in a city or community. The professionals (and some of the self builts like Cal Poly) decorate in the float barns that you can visit for a fee in Pasadena (The Rosemont Pavilion, Brookside Pavilion, and Rose Palace). You will be able to watch as volunteers apply the decorating materials to the floats, but you should be warned that you won't be able to get too close to the floats. Some of the self built floats build off-site, and there is often no charge to visit them while they are decorating.

If you want to see the floats up close, I suggest going to the Post- Parade event. The barricades are far closer to the float at that time, and some of the floats will have designers and decorators on hand to answer your questions about materials and design.

Each organization has it's own policies for volunteers, and different ways of recruiting them. Almost all of the self-built floats allow volunteers to arrive the day of to decorate, or sign up in advanced. Most decorating happens between Christmas and New Years, although some groups do start a bit earlier. Most floats will be finished by at least noon the day before the parade, as they have a major judging that day, and then need to move into position on the parade route. The most exciting day to decorate is often 2 days before the parade, but be ready to be put to work!

Things you should know about decorating: You will get dirty, and it can get cold! This is not a good time for designer shoes. Wear sneakers and comfortable clothing that can get glue stained and will keep you warm if it gets cool. If you really want to be working with flowers, you should decorate 2-3 days before the parade, as only "dry materials" (seeds, bark, etc) are applied before then. However, dry materials can be a lot of fun to work with and are quite intricate, and the sites are likely to be less packed with volunteers at earlier times in the week. On most floats, kids need to be at least 13 years old to decorate unless they are with a group (like a scout troop).

The link below includes the websites of all of the various companies and organizations involved in decorating floats, both professional and volunteer. http://www.lcftra.org/links.php

If you have any additional questions about the process of decorating a float or the best way to witness one being decorated, feel free to ask me. Now that the parade is over for the year, I need to figure out something to do with this eclectic knowledge!

Mentioned in this post
Rose Parade
Rose Parade
107 Reviews
Pasadena, CA
Pasadena
Pasadena
California
Phoenix
Phoenix
Central Arizona, AZ
Fremont, California
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
Level Contributor
29,329 posts
6,137 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Seeing/Decorating Floats

Nice post and thanks for all your work on the parade!

We've done float decorating also for the Rose Parade.

Hours and hours of cutting little pedals from similar flowers for hours on end.

We did get to put them on the float - and its amazing to see how much work goes into decorating the float from close up.

It can get cold in the decorating tents - as you mention.....highly dependent on weather.

But it is a whole lot of fun!

Mentioned in this post
Rose Parade
Rose Parade
107 Reviews
Pasadena, CA
Fullerton...
Level Contributor
1,114 posts
Save Reply
2. Re: Seeing/Decorating Floats

Very nice of you to post such helpful information. Hopefully, folks will save this in their "Watch" file, as I have...just in case I get industrious this year (somthing I always think I'll do but don't quite get there!).

Tustin, California
Level Contributor
231 posts
9 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Seeing/Decorating Floats

Great post. Thanks! I've always wanted to help decorate a float and have put it on my bucket list. However, when the time comes close, the holidays happen and my intentions get shelved "until next year." I'm gonna file this info. Maybe I can put a checkmark next to "float decorating" in 2012!!!

San Diego...
Level Contributor
579 posts
127 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Seeing/Decorating Floats

We're hoping to get out this year for the parade but are wondering about the definition of "senior" in the post-parade viewing schedule on Jan. 2 (7-9 am for seniors and mobility-impaired). We're 61, which is considered senior for San Diego museum admission. Is there an age requirement, or is it self-defined? Thanks!

Mentioned in this post
San Diego
San Diego
California
Berkeley, California
Level Contributor
41 posts
14 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Seeing/Decorating Floats

That's an excellent question, and one that I wasn't able to find a quick answer too. I usually go to post-parade through the staff entrance, so unfortunately I don't have an answer for you. I do recommend going as early in the day as possible, as it gets considerably more crowded in the afternoon. The general concept of the early hours is to allow people who need more space to maneuver to arrive before the big crowds (and before it gets too hot). They haven't yet released the 2013 visitors guide, where there might be more information. (As a note, since the parade will be in 2013, anything for this particular parade year will use that year. 2012 stuff was for last year!)

Huntington Beach...
Destination Expert
for Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach
Level Contributor
6,577 posts
185 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Seeing/Decorating Floats

Thank you for your informative post Nikara. I have re-posted it on the Orange County forum for our many winter visitors who may be interested.

Mentioned in this post
Orange County
Orange County
California
San Diego...
Level Contributor
579 posts
127 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Seeing/Decorating Floats

I just called for tickets and while I was on the phone, asked about "senior" - she said age 55! We both agreed that sounded very young for senior (I think she was older than me).

I also learned that it's better to call for parade tickets than to order online because (1) they don't post all sections online so there are more options and (2) the service charge is only $2/ticket instead of $10/ticket. We got seats in section 240, which is over the highway, which is closed during the parade. She said the advantages were that there's nothing blocking the view in either direction, they don't allow people in front so you're 20-30 feet closer to the parade, and the stands there are only 11 rows high. We got 10th row aisle seats. I sure hope she was right about them being good seats!

Berkeley, California
Level Contributor
41 posts
14 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Seeing/Decorating Floats

I wanted to pull back up this thread in case anyone in planning to visit in the coming month. One update- the La Canada floats now allow children of any age to decorate, as long as they are will to try to work a full shift. A parent-child ration of 1 adult to 2 children is needed for anyone under the age of 13, and kids under that age can't go on scaffolding, but they can still do quite a bit of fun decorating. Sign-ups are open now!

Pasadena, California
Destination Expert
for Pasadena
Level Contributor
6,714 posts
47 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Seeing/Decorating Floats

http://www.sptor.com/

This is the website for the South Pasadena self-built float. Will include waiver/sign up forms closer to the date. Convenient location just south of the city of Pasadena, along Fair Oaks (major bus line/ longish walk from Gold Line station).

Good topic, Nikara!

Mentioned in this post
Pasadena
Pasadena
California
Corona del Mar, CA
Destination Expert
for San Diego, Orange County, California
Level Contributor
56,771 posts
429 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Seeing/Decorating Floats

Here are some links for those who'd like to do this.

http://tinyurl.com/mnvgm4e

http://www.phxdeco.com/volunteer/

www.kiwanisrosefloat.com/2014_float.htm

http://www.petalpushers.org/2014/float/

Edited: 20 November 2013, 23:49