A color rendering of South Pasadena’s float, scheduled to roll down Colorado Boulevard in the Rose Parade on New Year’s Day, is an instant reminder to Brant Dunlap that life does indeed have its fair share of lighter moments.
Take for instance, the city’s newest float design, which features a collection of ostriches, including one wearing a Jetpack, leather helmet, scarf and goggles blasting off from a snow-covered mountaintop.
Adding to the humor, as part of the design, one ostrich on board has its head buried in the sand, another is snapping photos while one more is holding a sign reading, “You Can Do It!” Frolicking in the wilderness is a pair of raccoons and a rabbit enjoying the merriment of it all.
“It’s fun, whimsical and really lives up to this year’s overall theme for the parade – ‘Dream, Believe, Achieve,’” explained Brant Dunlap, the president of the South Pasadena Tournament of Roses Committee, of the float – “Sky’s the Limit.” It incorporates a touch of South Pasadena’s early history, when the Cawston Ostrich Farm was a premier tourist destination after it opened in 1886 featuring ostrich drawn carriage rides as its main attraction.
Like Dunlap, the organizing group responsible for the float’s construction, which meets monthly at City Hall, was highly supportive when seeing it for the first time earlier this year, readily agreeing it could be a major crowd pleaser going down the 5-1/2-mile route in the next parade.
The design meets all the proper criteria of the theme, noted Dunlap, saying those who are responsible for putting it all together “dreamed big with its concept, believed in it from the start and think it can achieve, meaning it very possibly could be another award winner.”
No stranger to winning, South Pasadena’s 2019 float “Three Little Birds” won the Mayor Award and picked up the same honor in 2020 for its “Victory at Last” entry. Last January’s parade was cancelled on account of COVID and officials from the top down at the Tournament House to committees like the one in South Pasadena are hopeful the virus, including a series of new variants, won’t interfere with the next effort.
“It’s a wait and see situation,” said Dunlap, among those who receive updates from Tournament headquarters on the parade and Rose Bowl Game, the latter forced to move to Texas last January. “We’re gearing up as if there won’t be any changes to it. Obviously, we were all disappointed the last parade couldn’t be held.”
In a quick update regarding development of the 2022 float, the SPTOR president said “it’s is progressing well,” under a giant tent at the worksite in the back parking area of the War Memorial Building on Fair Oaks Avenue in town. “Most of the animals have been built. The mountain where the ostrich takes off is being formed. The extension is connected to the chassis and much of the skirting is welded.”
The committee, noted Dunlap, has budgeted $100,000 for float construction but “with rising costs of steel, wood and floral this year’s build could see a whopping 30% increase.” A series of fundraisers, including a golf tournament, which recently netted roughly $16,000; a year-end scheduled dinner and auction – both live and silent – bringing in about $35,000, along with See’s Candies sales and community donations all support the effort. The SPTOR committee, which meets the first Tuesday of the month and welcomes interested volunteers, is considering other means to raise dollars to support the cause.
A construction crew, sometimes reaching as many as a dozen, volunteer a couple of evenings during the week and most Saturdays this time a year to work on the float. On New Year’s Eve, after all the natural products and flowers have been applied, it is transported to the parade’s starting area along Orange Grove Boulevard. In all the 100-plus years of South Pasadena’s participation in parade, the city’s float has always hit the mark, arriving on time, save a year ago when the virus sidelined the event.
Dunlap began working on the float about 24 years ago, but after taking a break from it to spend more time with his children growing up, he calculates being a part of it for about 15 of those. Now at the helm of the organization responsible for its construction, he makes it a regular practice to thank others for their involvement at every opportunity.
“It’s important,” he said about passing along ample amounts of gratitude. “There are millions of other things people could be doing with their time, but they’ve chosen to help build our float. That means a lot. I can never say thank you enough to our community, our volunteers and our supporters.”
Guests are welcome at the South Pasadena Tournament of Roses Committee meetings, which take place at City Hall in town starting at 7:30 p.m. on the first Tuesday of each month. For more information, contact SPTOR President Brant Dunlap at email@example.com