Add it all up and it comes to one hefty sum.
“This year’s cost is estimated at $125,000, the highest yet,” said Brant Dunlap, looking at the potential total to pay for South Pasadena’s float set to take part in January’s 134th Rose Parade.
Like every year, the three major annual expenses to build it are construction, floral/materials and rental for a giant circus-like tent where the work is done on the massive city project.
Doing the math on last year’s float, Dunlap, the president of the South Pasadena Tournament of Roses (SPTOR) Committee, said $111,261.42 was spent on the local entry, including $35.245.47 for construction – much of it steel – $49,208.95 for decoration, and another $26,807,00 for the tent that goes up in a back parking lot at the War Memorial Building in the 400 block of Fair Oaks Avenue.
Volunteers, in high demand these days, are working at a furious pace weeknights and weekends to finish the job on time for the Monday, January 2 parade down Pasadena’s Colorado Boulevard. Tied to long traditions, Tournament of Roses officials have a “never on Sunday” policy, not to disrupt area church services. Because of it, the 2023 parade will move to the next day.
Its high costs are only one concern facing Dunlap and his SPTOR board. Ensuring the float gets finished on time is another with less than two months before the scheduled date. He and others with close ties to the city entry are making a cry to the community for help to build it, saying much-needed support is crucial.
“With COVID-19 behind us and restrictions gone, it is perplexing that we have not had a flood of volunteers to build our city’s float,” said Dunlap. “We are behind and are desperately in need of immediate help to build this year’s float.”
A small dedicated group of SPTOR board members and a team of unpaid workers are determined to keep the time-honored tradition alive for many years to come. The city’s participation started back in 1893, making it the oldest float in the parade.
“We are still 100% self-built, community-volunteer and self-funded,” Dunlap wrote in an appeal letter to the community seeking donations, recognizing it’s never easy raising the sum to pay for a float well over $100,000.
“If this seems like a lot of money to fundraise every year, you’re right,” he noted, urging the public to lend a hand. “We continue to need your support to produce this year’s float.”
What Dunlap likes to stress is that no one is compensated for their efforts, meaning some in the community are giving up a lot of their personal time to make a spirited effort happen.
Many of the float’s larger donors, noted Dunlap, have not made a commitment to donating and some local businesses are facing rising costs and economic hardships to help fund it.
“Without them we are potentially facing a major shortfall between 50% percent to 75% of our yearly budget,” wrote Dunlap in his pitch for dollars. “We are kindly asking for your monetary help.”
He insists any amount, small or large, will make a difference.
Calling it “a great concept,” Dunlap is among those crossing his fingers hoping the city’s 2023 themed “Spark of Imagination” float will garner another award, in keeping with a highly successful recent past.
That is, of course, if it’s finished in time, Dunlap saying crews have never been this far behind.
South Pasadena, no stranger to winning, earned the coveted Founder’s Award for its “Sky’s the Limit” last January. The 2021 parade was cancelled on account of COVID-19, but a year earlier the city walked away with the Mayor’s Award for “The Power of Hope” entry.
Using mice as scientists, the city’s newest float highlights the imagination and creativity, depicting winners of a science fair. A crazy house with spinning gears, a goofy clock, cranks, twirlers and more lies in front of three books – one on science, a second about atoms and a third on chemistry designed to inspire learning.
Richard Carlow, a creative force for the local float over the years, joined Mathew L. McCoy in creating the unique design that is earning its share of high praise, especially from SPTOR president.
“It looks great,” said Dunlap of the design, “but we’re not going to finish it if we don’t get some additional help right away. We really could use it.”
Donations to the South Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association can be made by visiting www.sptor.org or by mail: SPTOR, P.O. Box 3662, South Pasadena, 91032.
Along with financial contributions, volunteers willing to donate their time and effort are encouraged to email: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
“Thank you in advance for your time and consideration!” Dunlap concluded in his letter, before adding. “Every time there’s mention of our float, whether it be on television, on the radio or in print, it’s just another way for us to showcase our wonderful image as a city. We live in a great community and our float is just one of those great aspects that continues to enhance it.
“I just hope people will find it in their hearts and take a moment to help us with a donation and by working on it this year,” he added. “We could really use your help at the float site.”