Alan Vlacich is using pedal power to pump much-needed funds into a beloved annual South Pasadena project.
The city’s entry in the Rose Parade costs roughly $100,000 to construct when it comes to steel and flowers, and with two major fundraising efforts in question, Vlacich is making good use of his bicycle these days to generate dollars as a member of the committee responsible for building it.
“We all take for granted that our float will be built by the South Pasadena Tournament of Roses (SPTOR), and so many other things in South Pasadena,” said Vlacich, who serves as co-chair of the organization’s golf tournament with John Vandercook.
The June tournament has been postponed and a popular September car show could be canceled or also delayed this year on account of the novel coronavirus outbreak, he said, making fundraising for the SPTOR Committee extremely difficult.
“There certainly are a lot of things much more important in the world than building a float, but the So Pas float effort is one of the many reasons why we love and live in the city, just as is the 4th of July Parade and fireworks show,” explained Vlacich, a longtime fixture in town, known for his generosity and giving back attitude, much like his wife, Lin, a respected realtor in the community.
A little ingenuity, mixed with goodwill and a personal passion, was all it took for Vlacich to come up with the idea of cycling through city neighborhoods and region dropping off his home-roasted coffee for a $25 donation to the South Pasadena Tournament of Roses.
“I have been roasting coffee at home for over 10 years,” explained the good-natured South Pasadenan. “I use an air-popcorn maker to roast my green beans which I purchase online at Sweet Maria’s and U-Roast Em. I typically like Sumatra coffee and Maui coffee but lately one of my favorites is Guatemalan coffee. I roast one-quarter pound at a time and it takes about four minutes.”
Vlacich recently posted a video of my coffee roasting technique on social media, noting, “I love sharing my coffee with close friends. After I dropped off some coffee to a close friend, I got the idea that maybe I could do this to raise funds for SPTOR. I’ll buy the green beans, roast it, package it, and deliver it on my bike, which makes it a little more unique and good exercise too. The coffee bags I use have a capacity of a little less than a pound.”
Climbing on either his Trek road or Klein mountain bike, Vlacich, who averages more than 100 miles a month on his two-wheeler, looks forward to cycling over to area residences, practicing social-distancing, of course, and delivering his special coffee beans.
He really did not know what to expect from people wanting to donate, but the second person he made a delivery to donated $500 to the South Pasadena Tournament of Roses. “She and her husband are extremely generous to SPTOR with raffle tickets and bidding at the Crunch Time Party,” explained Vlacich, who typically makes a 20-mile loop when he climbs on his bike for exercise, cycling up to Sacred Heart Academy in La Cañada Flintridge, pedaling around Pasadena before returning home.
“That was encouraging for me to know that this could be a worthwhile during this difficult time,” he continued about the sizeable donation. “For most of the deliveries there is a check waiting for me to pick up and leave the coffee. I have talked to a couple of very close friends from a safe 10-feet away but most of the deliveries are just left at the front door. I have made about 12 deliveries and have three scheduled for tomorrow. The response to my social media posts seems to be picking up.”
Along with the annual golf tournament and Cruz’n for Roses Hot Rod & Classic Car Show that draws thousands each year, the SPTOR sells $100 raffle tickets with the winners receiving top seats at either the Rose Parade or Rose Bowl Game, the Crunch-Time Party, featuring dinner and silent and live auctions at the War Memorial Building in late December, and a donation letter asking local citizens to financially support the float.
“Many people contribute to more than one of those events,” said Vlacich. “But this year is going to be particularly difficult with so many people and businesses struggling. And then there is the challenge of safety building the float in a timely fashion. Things may be back to normal in December to decorate the float but we still need to raise the funds now and start building the float soon. SPTOR has so much history being oldest float in the parade.”
Vlacich has been involved in the SPTOR Committee for more than 20 years, holding the role as president in 2002 and 2003. Along with his current co-chair duties with the yearly golf tourney, he heads up the organization’s $100 raffle ticket sales campaign designed to raise $20,000.
The city’s float is a highly meaningful entity that Vlacich is grateful for the support from so many. “It is so inspiring to see the whole city get together throughout the year for a common goal,” he said, hoping more coffee lovers will contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or (626) 233-5570 with a message to roll on over with some of his coffee beans.
Not long after he should be on his way, arriving by bike with a friendly smile and a sampling of his roasted coffee beans in return for a donations to one of his favorite loves – the South Pasadena Tournament of Roses.