South Pasadena’s float in Wednesday’s 131st Rose Parade has a proud distinction.
Not only is it the oldest self-built entry in the event, meaning it’s constructed entirely by volunteers, but Courtney Dunlap, the president of the South Pasadena Tournament of Roses Committee (SPTOR), says it’s now the oldest in the entire parade.
“That’s pretty amazing,” said Dunlap, talking about the city float that has been a part of the Rose Parade since 1893. “We’re pretty proud of that. ”
So is her dad, Brant Dunlap, the vice president of the SPTOR and in line to become the new president of the organization in 2020, and among many working on the float down the final stretch as work continues at a feverish pace to finish it in time for its 5-1/2 mile ride down Colorado Boulevard.
Courtney and Brant, both a big part of Sunday’s Crunch Time Party, a major fundraiser at the War Memorial Building, have combined to work on the city float for an estimated 36 years. They’re grateful for the strong backing from the community.
“We wouldn’t have a float if it weren’t for this party,” said Brant, pleased by community support that turns out for it every year. “It’s a great event and we’re grateful for everyone who helps us.”
While volunteers were busy toiling, working outside on the city’s homegrown float in a giant tent in War Memorial Building parking lot, South Pasadena Tournament of Roses officials weren’t far away asking party guests to dig deep into their wallets.
“We appreciate every dollar,” said Courtney. “We get great community support.”
It’s crunch time in more ways than one as workers, pushed by the clock, continue decorating South Pasadena’s entry – “Victory at Last” – long into the night as the big day nears. The float celebrates the passing of the 19th, reflecting on the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution granting American women the right to vote, ending almost a century of protest. Elements feature a scroll depicting the 19th Amendment, along with iconic period pieces representing women from the start of the movement, including hats and jewelry worn at the time.
Inside the War Memorial Building, a packed crowd of about 200 was treated to dinner served by Fresh Gourmet Catering before Crunch Time Party emcee Gary Pia asked the community to help contribute to the fund-raising effort by bidding on a wide assortment of items during the event’s live auction. He then turned the microphone over to professional auctioneer DawnMarie Katsonis, who did her magic like she’s done in the past, urging those on hand to raise their numbers and bid high.
Among the items up for grabs were a gourmet dinner for eight, prime seats at a Dodgers’ baseball game, an overnight stay at the Langham Hotel in Pasadena, free monthly pizza for a year at Charlie’s Trio, a restaurant just outside the South Pasadena city limits, and much more.
Courtney Dunlap said on Monday proceeds were still being tallied through ticket sales, a raffle, silent and live auction. All funds will go directly to support of the float, which organizers say costs roughly $100,000 each year to build with the cost of steel and flowers.
“It’s a great time,” summed up Dunlap, on why the event is so popular. “You get to see old friends, have a great dinner and a chance to bid on some wonderful items through the silent and live auction.”
South Pasadena Mayor Bob Joe said, “It’s a great tradition. It’s very special. It brings the community together.”
Joe Ortiz, the city’s police chief, joined by his wife, Shawna, came away impressed after attending his first Crunch Time Party. “This is a huge event for the city and brings us all together under one roof,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun.”
Like the others, Councilmember Dr. Marina Khubesrian stressed that it’s a key fundraiser to get attendees excited for parade and to thank all the volunteers for working on the float.
Fellow Councilmember Michael Cacciotti added, “It’s what South Pasadena is all about, people coming together to support a great project. People are having fun, seeing friends and neighbors. The city staff, the police chief and his wife, the City Council…It’s just a great community event. This float has been built for decades with volunteers. The people who give up their time to put this event together and work on the float are just great. I can’t say enough about them.”
After taking a break from his emceeing duties, Pia, who also serves as the city treasurer, said the Crunch Time Party is “the capstone for the South Pasadena Tournament of Roses,” he said, adding that the organization “works all year raising funds, designing and building the float, but the final push comes with the Crunch Time Party. It’s a great way to recognize all those who work on the float and those who contribute to this event. They are our working partners. It’s a great way the community rallies each year.”