Tournament of Roses officials went under the hood of the city’s float in the 2020 Rose Parade last Saturday and later put it through a test drive to ensure it will roll safely down Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena for the big event on New Year’s Day.
The rigorous testing is called T-1, or the first of two technical inspections taking place at the city’s construction site behind the War Memorial Building in the 400 block of Fair Oaks Avenue.
Joining the TOR crew in overalls with giant Roses on their backs were volunteers from the South Pasadena Tournament of Roses Committee, working tirelessly on week nights and all day Saturdays to complete a massive amount of work, including construction of the float’s underbelly and decorating it topside as the wheels are in motion to create another floral masterpiece representing South Pasadena.
The first of two early morning inspections “tested the capability of the drivers, making sure there are emergency exits, fire extinguishers and that the emergency brake system is in working order,” explained Brandt Dunlap, the vice chair for the South Pasadena Tournament of Roses Committee.
Added Joss Rogers, the SPTOR construction chair, added: “This is our first opportunity to work with the Tournament float inspectors, where they go though all the mechanical aspects of the float. They make sure everything is sound, safe and will operate as expected and reliably during the parade.”
After giving it a careful look on the technical side, the float was taken for a drive up, escorted by South Pasadena Police Department vehicles, leading it north on Fair Oaks for about a half mile before making a U-turn at Columbia Avenue and returning to its home – the back parking lot of the War Memorial Building.
“Victory at Last,” a salute to Women’s Suffrage, has been selected as the theme for the city’s float, reflecting on the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution granting American women the right to vote, ending almost a century of protest.
Elements on the float 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.
To get to T-1, Rogers said, “We have to be at roughly 80 percent of our build. That’s 80 percent of the construction. That obviously doesn’t include any of the decoration or what we call deco. The deco will start in the next couple of weeks with the dry goods.”
As part of deco, come the flowers, tons of them as parade day inches closer.
Dunlap, talking about the float’s development at this stage, noted, “We’re pretty much where we want to be right now. We’re in a good spot. We’re happy with the progress, absolutely.”
Rogers agreed, saying, “I think we’re doing really well.”
Tournament of Roses officials will make a second inspection at 7 a.m. on December 7, only three weeks before it embarks on its 5 ½-mile journey down the parade route.
Between now and then it’s full speed ahead for those contributing countless hours to the task.
“It’s a great thing for the city,” said Dunlap, when asked why he contributes his time. “There’s a lot of camaraderie among those here working in the tent,” he said. “We have a good time together. We all learn from each other, different skills, whether it’s welding or learning to read a blue print plan and watch something come to life. It’s just fun to hang out with people and build something.”
For Rogers, “I get to play with a really big toy,” he said, speaking of the float. “There are always little engineering problems to solve.”
Dunlap said volunteers are always welcome to work on the float, especially between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, known as “Deco Week.” He also encourages the public to support the float by participating in the organization’s fundraisers as it takes roughly $100,000, including steel, parts and flowers, to put the float at the starting line.
A golf tournament, a Crunch Time Party featuring a live action, and raffle tickets sold for prime seats at the Rose Parade and Game are some of the ways the committee raises funds for the float. Monetary donations are also welcome.
For more information about the SPTOR, go to www.SPTOR.org and look for the link for volunteer opportunities.