Destruction of South Pasadena’s award-winning float begun last Saturday as focus on the next Rose Parade has started.
A group responsible for its creation were gripping and ripping, removing flowers vials and other key components off the city’s float – Victory at Last – at the float’s work site behind the War Memorial Building. They’ll be back at it this weekend removing the foam, plywood and steel.
Only three days earlier, South Pasadena’s entry had traveled triumphantly 5 ½-mile down Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena as part of the 131st parade basking in the limelight after earning the prestigious Mayor Award which annually goes to the most outstanding float from a participating city.
“Tear down day is always a little sad,” said Courtney Dunlap, the president of the South Pasadena Tournament of Roses (SPTOR). “We don’t have the means to keep our float for any length of time after the parade due to storage and weather. Tear down day means that the year is over it’s officially time to start thinking about the next one.”
Added Courtney’s father, Brant Dunlap, another longtime volunteer and the current vice president of SPTOR: “It reminds us that in a month we start design plans for 2021.”
Joss Rogers, the local float’s construction chair, relatively new on the scene, said he was stunned that volunteers wanted to tear it down so quickly after the parade. Wet weather kept it around much longer than normal a year ago.
“If you recall, we had a train of rainstorms, so it actually did sit a couple weeks before tear down,” he said. “I honestly thought we’d all leave it for a few weeks to admire. I had to go out of town and when I returned, tear down was complete and there was no evidence left of the float I was so proud to have been a part of (it). This year, I’m feeling differently about it. We’re all geared up for next year and I’m thinking about so many things we can do differently – hopefully better and more efficiently – for the 2021 float that I can’t wait for the blank slate so we can begin.” South Pasadena’s float winner was reflecting on the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution granting American women the right to vote, ending almost a century of protest.
Rogers, who put in long hours working on South Pasadena’s float, stressed he wants to get started on the new float without delay, noting he’s proud of the SPTOR team of volunteers, calling them “a rare group of folks in town who share a unique opportunity to put South Pasadena on the world stage – and they do it with anonymity and little recognition. The process is challenging and the final stretch is painful; four sleepless nights and diet of jelly donuts and coffee to cross the finish line. I have scratches I know not what from, all over my hands and arms and I can’t be the only one. All that said, our collective focus on the goal kept us from falling apart and everyone did their part to achieve success. I’ve finally caught up on sleep and while the memory of the experience is a little foggy now, I couldn’t be more proud of our achievement.”
Brant Dunlap said, “It’s exciting to say I worked on that award winning float. The award really is the bonus. The completion of our city’s float is always the main goal.” As a result of raising children, Courtney Dunlap hasn’t been able to lend her hand to decorating the float over the past six years, but as time became a factor during crunch time on the 2020 entry, she was part of “an all-nighter,” starting on December 30 and going into the next day, joining a large number of volunteers who patiently hung with it to complete the float. “Being there to decorate makes me even prouder that we won an award this year,” she said.
Rogers believes South Pasadena’s participation in the parade is a chance to help differentiate itself from Pasadena, the big sister to the north “and the fact that we are the oldest self-built in the parade helps to solidify our commitment like no other to the continued success of the globally renowned event,” he explained. “Few people outside of the San Gabriel Valley even know what South Pasadena is. My family vacationed in Yosemite a few years ago and met a group from Spain and Germany. When we told them we were from South Pasadena, it was interpreted as the South ‘of” Pasadena, the city of the Rose Parade. I used to travel a lot for business to Asia, Europe and the Midwest and East Coast of the US. Many times it would come up and it became clear to me that the Rose Parade is globally synonymous with the City of Pasadena and my use of ‘South’ was simply a way to suggest which part of the famous town I was living in.”
Not only is South Pasadena the oldest self-built, meaning it’s constructed entirely by volunteers, but Courtney Dunlap likes the idea it’s the oldest entry in the entire parade. “That tradition is the coolest part of being part of the Tournament of Roses Parade,” she said.
For the woman who grew up attending Marengo Elementary School, the local middle school and being a 2010 graduated of South Pasadena High, she takes great pride growing up in the small town.
“Being the first and the oldest entry is very special,” added her father.
For being around the float for only two years, Rogers has already left an indelible impression.
“My participation in this incredible legacy is but one chapter in a long history,” he said, “but one I hope to leave an impressionable mark.”