Unusual hot weather during the daytime hours this week has forced workers to postpone placing flowers on the city float until the last minute and to schedule an all-night work session Saturday into Sunday.
It’s will be all hands on deck as volunteers rush to complete the float in time by 4 p.m. Sunday when final judging by Tournament of Roses officials takes place. Clipboards in hand, a handful of judges will arrive at the float site behind the War Memorial Building in the 400 block of Fair Oaks Avenue, take notes before announcing their decision if the South Pasadena float is an award winner by about 6 a.m. Monday, two hours before the start of the 129th Rose Parade.
“It’s definitely crunch time,” admitted Janet Benjamin, the head decorator and president of the South Pasadena Tournament of Roses Committee.
On Friday night while a major fundraiser for the float was being held inside the War Memorial Building, Benjamin, who in normal years would have attended, was busing outside at the float site making preparations with a core group of dedicated volunteers for the final push to finish the city entry.
While much of the painting on the float is complete and seeds and natural products are in place, not a single flower had been installed as a result of the heat in recent days.
“Things are a little stressful because of the weather,” said Benjamin. “Because it has been 85 degrees, it has pushed back putting flowers on the float.”
She is expecting about 40-50 volunteers to arrive early Saturday to help decorate the float throughout the day, but Benjamin would welcome additional help at about 9 p.m. as plans call for working all night into Sunday before the judges assess it in the late afternoon.
“So, yes, we could use the help if anyone wants to lend a hand,” Benjamin said. “Normally, we are well along at this point but we’re waiting until the very last minute to put the flowers on so they won’t dry out before the parade.”
Warm weather is expected again on Saturday, but there’s no time to waste. “We have to pull the trigger,” explained Benjamin, noting that a 4 p.m. judging on Sunday is far better that the traditional 7 a.m. inspection that local float builders have experienced in the past. “It will be nice to have those few extra ours on Dec. 31st to decorate.”
Benjamin regretted missing Friday night’s Crunch Time Party, in which the SPTOR president traditionally thanks audience members for giving so willingly with donations through a silent and live auction and dinner receipts. Roughly $20,000 is raised from the event and applied to the cost of flowers and materials for the float, constructed entirely by volunteers.
Instead, Benjamin was fully engaged at the float site, only steps away from the party inside, as she talked about the real crunch time of finishing the float on time for Monday’s New Year’s Day spectacle down Colorado Blvd. in Pasadena. South Pasadena’s float – “Booster Club” – features a group of revelers in a vintage roadster headed to the big game.
“Crunch time is total chaos,” noted Benjamin. “It’s getting as many people here as we can to get everything that needs to get done in little time.”
No worries, stressed Paul Abbey, a longtime member of the volunteer float building team. “It’s going to get done, it always does.”