GardenSmart :: EPISODES :: 2009 show47
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Show #47/1808. Tournament of Roses Parade Float

Summary of Show

History of The Parade
Bill, first, welcomes Eric to Pasadena. The reality is that was a part of HOW IT ALL GOT STARTED. In the beginning, some midwesterners came out West where they started seeing palm trees and sunshine and flowers growing. A few of them got together on January 1, 1890 and said let's have a festival, let's have a parade, let's get everyone together. They talked to their friends, they went into their backyards and took their flowers, particularly roses, tied them onto their horse and buggies and came down to within a block of this building, kind of got together and created a parade.
For More Information Click here

How It's Evolved
Eric has seen a number of old photographs of old cars, possibly Model T's with roses all over but what we see today shows a tremendous EVOLUTION IN THE PARADE. From horse and buggy and Model T to the amazingly complex floats today, it's unbelievable. Bill talks about that evolution. The Tournament of Roses in many respects mirrors all of culture. As the culture has evolved so has the parade. For example, we first had no phone, then a telephone to where today we have cell phones, even Blackberries, The Tournament of Roses has gone through the same processes.
For More Information Click here

Behind The Scenes
He opines - many come to the Rose Bowl for the football game but clearly the STARS OF THE SHOW are the beautiful parade floats. We're in Irwindale, California in front of a large nondescript warehouse that houses the Fiesta Parade Float Company, one of the finest float designers and construction companies in the world with over 16 years of award winning excellence. Not many get to see how these floats come together, this is a rare opportunity. Let's go inside.
For More Information Click here

Designing A Float
Eric next meets Raul Rodriguez, THE DESIGNER behind some of the most amazing floats. Raul tells us how it all started for him. In his early days he enjoyed watching parades, then when he was 14 he entered a high school contest for float design. His design was successful and over the years it has been exciting to bring bigger and bigger floats to life. This has been made possible in part because of the talents of many and the availability of floral from all over the world.
For More Information Click here

Conceptualization
How does he start or how does he CONCEPTUALIZE a float and what is the process? For Raul over the years it has always been the various themes that the parades have had. He loves every walk of life, every bit of life and is always scouring museums or book stores, even patterns on clothes, you name it, it is something he retains and when he sees a float is able to, hopefully, take it to the next level.
For More Information Click here

The Engineer
Tim Estes is the President of Fiesta Parade Floats as well as THE MAN BEHIND THE STRUCTURAL ENGINEERING, the guts or skeleton, of each of these floats. Eric comments that to his knowledge this is one of the most unusual careers. As a young man Tim had a neighbor that had a parade float company. His name was Don Bent. Starting at age 8 Tim would help decorate the floats, gluing on flowers just like the decorators nowadays. That developed into a full time job and 45 years later he's still here.
For More Information Click here

Getting Started
It's hard for Eric to imagine where one would GET STARTED building these floats. How would one take it from conceptualization on paper, break it down into the mass of iron and cloth? Once a design is finalized, Tim specifies in the sales meeting, based on the client's budget how big and wide and how much animation will be on the float. Working within the client's budget range is a given. Once that is done they take all the information and start working on the main chassis. The main chassis is a heavy duty frame that they actually manufacture themselves. They then put in motors and axles.
For More Information Click here

The Driver
What is interesting about driving these floats is THE DRIVER is hidden, he cannot see outside. But up front on the float, generally hidden, is the eyes of the float, they call the observer. The observer and driver communicate back and forth on an intercom and the observer tells the driver, touch right, touch left, faster, slower, stop, etc. and that happens for 3 hours.
For More Information Click here

Size Of The Floats
In watching these floats on TV it's hard to get a clear picture of how massive they are. SOME ARE INCREDIBLY TALL. These floats can be 26 feet tall, some even taller, Tim has one in the parade this year that's 36 feet tall. But according to the rules of The Tournament of Roses Parade any float that exceeds 16 feet 6 inches must fold down to that height. The cornucopia float has to fold down hydraulically so it can proceed under the 210 Freeway as well as any low wires they might encounter. At the same time it also has to be able to come back up within 60 seconds.
For More Information Click here

The Floral Designer
Eric next meets Jim Hynd, AIFD, the Vice President as well as THE FLORAL DESIGNER for the float company. Eric has learned a lot from Tim about how these floats come together but clearly the focal point of these floats is the flowers. Eric has learned that Jim saw his first parade as a young child and that has sparked a lifelong interest in being a part of all this. Jim agrees. He saw his 1st parade when he was around 5 years old and knew at that point that there would be some way he would be associated with this event.
For More Information Click here

Everything Must Be Botanical
Eric always knew that there were roses on the floats but never knew that EVERYTHING ON THE FLOATS MUST BE 100% BOTANICAL. Everything you see is a natural botanical material and just the way it grows. They cannot do anything to change the color in any manner. Everything is botanical - seeds, spices, roots, barks, etc. and of course the flowers. And the rose is the star of the show.
For More Information Click here

How Long To Make?
Eric has been watching the volunteers scurrying around glueing beans, berries, leaves and all kinds of other materials on each of the floats. It must take THOUSAND OF HOURS TO BUILD. It does. Literally the man hours involved in decorating one of these floats is in the thousands of hours. It is a year long process beginning with building the float and Jim's planning of the plant material that he will be ordering. They get started very early in the year. A lot of the materials they had grown months and months ago just for Fiesta. The quantities they require make that a necessity.
For More Information Click here

Creating Colors
On the next float Jim estimates there are over 200 colors. Jim talks about some of the specific plants and seeds and items he used to CREATE ALL THE WONDERFUL COLORS. Jim feels that with nature's palate at his doorstep anything can be used. And they do use many different things. This float has about 160 different types of plant material involved in its decoration. From the flaxseed on the sculpture to the ornamental grass on the gorillas, everything is very unusual. The oriental warriors have a beautiful texture created with crushed walnuts. By mixing in spices, ground peppers and onion seeds, they create different looks, such as matte blacks.
For More Information Click here

Plant Care
One of the greatest challenges must be not only KEEPING THE PLANT MATERIAL ALIVE but keeping it fresh and vibrant. And, they do a wonderful job of that. Eric wants to know if Jim has any special tips. He does. It's all in the planning, it takes a lot of work to get these materials to where they are now. He has a lot of vendors and oftentimes they bring their product to him in water. They make sure to keep the product hydrated. They use a solution when they cut the flowers, dip them in a material called Quick Dip and it makes the flowers hydrate faster. It helps pull water up into the plants, they get turgent.
For More Information Click here

Number Of Flowers On A Float
Eric can readily see there is a lot of work that goes into each float. How many FLOWERS ARE ON A TYPICAL FLOAT? Is it measured in thousands or pounds? It's thousands and thousands. A float like the one they're in front of may have 60 or 70 thousand roses besides all the other plant material. The weight alone is huge. The chassis, the steel and such, can weigh 2, 3 or 4 tons. In many cases the plant material and the flowers can equal that.
For More Information Click here

The Parade
Well the big day, the day of THE PARADE, is finally here. After 11 months of very careful and detailed planning, over 5 months of steel frame construction, thousands of man hours and hundreds of thousands of flowers, these floats are finally complete and they are marvelous. One of the important aspects of the Tournament of Roses Parade is the judging of the floats. Of course, that is very important to the people that design the floats. Many of the floats we followed won top honors.
For More Information Click here

LINKS:

Quick Dip

Tournament of Roses

Fiesta Parade Float Company

Show #46/1808. Tournament of Roses Parade Float

Complete Transcript of Show

In this episode we visit one of the most incredible floral displays in the world. The range of colors and textures is absolutely mind boggling. Join us a we go behind the scenes for the construction of a parade float for the Tournament of Roses.

Eric first meets with Bill Flynn the COO of the Tournament of Roses parade. Since this parade is so rich in history, Eric asks Bill to take us back to the beginning, to describe how it all got started.
Top

Bill, first, welcomes Eric to Pasadena. The reality is that was a part of HOW IT ALL GOT STARTED. In the beginning, some midwesterners came out West where they started seeing palm trees and sunshine and flowers growing. A few of them got together on January 1, 1890 and said let's have a festival, let's have a parade, let's get everyone together. They talked to their friends, they went into their backyards and took their flowers, particularly roses, tied them onto their horse and buggies and came down to within a block of this building, kind of got together and created a parade. They went around the block, then decided to do it a second time, they loved it so much they decided to try it again the next year. Before you knew it, they actually had an event going. It wasn't too long before they realized that they had a big event and decided to call it - The Tournament of Roses.
Top

Eric has seen a number of old photographs of old cars, possibly Model T's with roses all over but what we see today shows a tremendous EVOLUTION IN THE PARADE. From horse and buggy and Model T to the amazingly complex floats today, it's unbelievable. Bill talks about that evolution. The Tournament of Roses in many respects mirrors all of culture. As the culture has evolved so has the parade. For example, we first had no phone, then a telephone to where today we have cell phones, even Blackberries, The Tournament of Roses has gone through the same processes. First the horse and buggy, moving on to cars and other automobiles to the point today where there are hydraulics and computer driven animation. It's almost to the point where we don't know where it might go one day. The Tournament of Roses is now seen on high definition television, no more analogue. So, all of those influences have been there and are the reasons The Tournament of Roses has creatively developed the way it has.

This is one of the few parades that Eric watches on TV, it's one he never misses. He's not alone, the scope is far and wide and continues to grow. In the early days when holding the small parade, going around several blocks, they decided they needed some companion events. They've had a race between a camel and an elephant, they even had relay races to make it more of a family event day, they tried a football game in 1902 because they thought this thing on the horizon, called collegiate football, was something new and could have quite a future. They talked the University of Michigan into coming out and playing Stanford. Well, at the end of the 3rd quarter the score was 49 to 0, in favor of Michigan, and they then couldn't talk any western teams into playing the next year. So, one of their members, one of the Presidents of the Tournament of Roses was reading the book Ben Hur and got the idea that they could have chariot races. They did that until someone almost got killed, so finally in 1916 football came back and has been in Pasadena ever since.

The breadth of support has continued to grow. First through print, then radio, then television to where today the parade is shown internationally in some 216 territories and countries around the world. The Tournament of Roses continues to expand its New Years greetings.

Eric knows it's a magical event and congratulates Bill. Bill and his team have a lot to be proud of. Bill thanks Eric and wishes him and the audience Happy New Year.
Top

Eric is off. He opines - many come to the Rose Bowl for the football game but clearly the STARS OF THE SHOW are the beautiful parade floats. We're in Irwindale, California in front of a large nondescript warehouse that houses the Fiesta Parade Float Company, one of the finest float designers and construction companies in the world with over 16 years of award winning excellence. Not many get to see how these floats come together, this is a rare opportunity. Let's go inside.

When walking in Eric meets Janet and Bill, the winners of our Tournament of Roses Sweepstakes. They are joining us as we tour the facility and too are eager to get started.
Top

Eric next meets Raul Rodriguez, THE DESIGNER behind some of the most amazing floats. Raul tells us how it all started for him. In his early days he enjoyed watching parades, then when he was 14 he entered a high school contest for float design. His design was successful and over the years it has been exciting to bring bigger and bigger floats to life. This has been made possible in part because of the talents of many and the availability of floral from all over the world. Raul enjoys experimenting with different looks and different textures. If he talks too much about it he tends to get pretty emotional. For Raul to see something that started as a rough sketch and a montage of paste ups, then develop into larger drawings, then eventually into color and into the final design is something he loves. He's never tired of the process nor lost his love for it. Each new theme brings a new kind of Pandora's Box of the imagination and allows him to hone in on new specifics.
Top

How does he start or how does he CONCEPTUALIZE a float and what is the process? For Raul over the years it has always been the various themes that the parades have had. He loves every walk of life, every bit of life and is always scouring museums or book stores, even patterns on clothes, you name it, it is something he retains and when he sees a float is able to, hopefully, take it to the next level. Designing floats is something he loves, it's never ending. As long as there is breath in him he will be able to translate these ideas into a concept. He is frequently asked which is his favorite float. How can he say, when it is the one in front of him. The truth may be that he has yet to design that float. Raul has a lot to be proud of. We're looking forward to seeing the next steps.
Top

Tim Estes is the President of Fiesta Parade Floats as well as THE MAN BEHIND THE STRUCTURAL ENGINEERING, the guts or skeleton, of each of these floats. Eric comments that to his knowledge this is one of the most unusual careers. As a young man Tim had a neighbor that had a parade float company. His name was Don Bent. Starting at age 8 Tim would help decorate the floats, gluing on flowers just like the decorators nowadays. That developed into a full time job and 45 years later he's still here. The structure of these floats is intricate and complicated. It seems like it would take a trained engineer to work with all the metal. Tim's believes that he has a natural aptitude building things, his Dad built space craft parts for NASA and JPL and he got a lot of that from his Dad. He would always tinker with his Dad's tools and things in the garage and make funny, silly little things. One thing led to another and he became enthralled creating floats because it's a unique challenge. Every float is different.
Top

It's hard for Eric to imagine where one would GET STARTED building these floats. How would one take it from conceptualization on paper, break it down into the mass of iron and cloth? Once a design is finalized, Tim specifies in the sales meeting, based on the client's budget how big and wide and how much animation will be on the float. Working within the client's budget range is a given. Once that is done they take all the information and start working on the main chassis. The main chassis is a heavy duty frame that they actually manufacture themselves. They then put in motors and axles. Most of the engines are Chevy V8 engines with a specially built transmission, they use a heavy duty truck axle because they need lower speed and quite a bit of torque to drive these floats. Once that stage is complete they start with the lighter steel work, the final shaping and forming of the float. At some point they start making the individual pieces that come on and off the float, for example, a figure, a flower, possibly a butterfly. At some point they take all the pieces and put them together and make the finalized float.
Top

What is interesting about driving these floats is THE DRIVER is hidden, he cannot see outside. But up front on the float, generally hidden, is the eyes of the float, they call the observer. The observer and driver communicate back and forth on an intercom and the observer tells the driver, touch right, touch left, faster, slower, stop, etc. and that happens for 3 hours.
Top

In watching these floats on TV it's hard to get a clear picture of how massive they are. SOME ARE INCREDIBLY TALL. These floats can be 26 feet tall, some even taller, Tim has one in the parade this year that's 36 feet tall. But according to the rules of The Tournament of Roses Parade any float that exceeds 16 feet 6 inches must fold down to that height. The cornucopia float has to fold down hydraulically so it can proceed under the 210 Freeway as well as any low wires they might encounter. At the same time it also has to be able to come back up within 60 seconds. It's all part of the rules. These floats go down the street and they weigh anywhere from 40 to 45 thousand pounds. He built one this year that weighs close to 55,000 pounds, that's 27 tons but there are 12 wheels underneath to help distribute the load.

Eric thanks Tim. It was amazing to be able to look inside. It was a real education.
Top

Eric next meets Jim Hynd, AIFD, the Vice President as well as THE FLORAL DESIGNER for the float company. Eric has learned a lot from Tim about how these floats come together but clearly the focal point of these floats is the flowers. Eric has learned that Jim saw his first parade as a young child and that has sparked a lifelong interest in being a part of all this. Jim agrees. He saw his 1st parade when he was around 5 years old and knew at that point that there would be some way he would be associated with this event. Since that time the parade has evolved tremendously, there have been many changes over time and Jim feels he has been a big part of that change. It's great to still be here and involved after all these years.
Top

Eric always knew that there were roses on the floats but never knew that EVERYTHING ON THE FLOATS MUST BE 100% BOTANICAL. Everything you see is a natural botanical material and just the way it grows. They cannot do anything to change the color in any manner. Everything is botanical - seeds, spices, roots, barks, etc. and of course the flowers. And the rose is the star of the show.
Top

Eric has been watching the volunteers scurrying around glueing beans, berries, leaves and all kinds of other materials on each of the floats. It must take THOUSAND OF HOURS TO BUILD. It does. Literally the man hours involved in decorating one of these floats is in the thousands of hours. It is a year long process beginning with building the float and Jim's planning of the plant material that he will be ordering. They get started very early in the year. A lot of the materials they had grown months and months ago just for Fiesta. The quantities they require make that a necessity. The building and artwork involved is immense. Just the decorating process, putting on the plant material, alone can involve as much as 9 thousand man hours. But the decorating week is the most intense time because they're dealing with natural botanical products. There are a number of special innovations that Jim has come up with to make sure everything survives. A lot goes into putting these floats together, making the colors work, coming up with the different color combinations and designs. They look more closely.
Top

On the next float Jim estimates there are over 200 colors. Jim talks about some of the specific plants and seeds and items he used to CREATE ALL THE WONDERFUL COLORS. Jim feels that with nature's palate at his doorstep anything can be used. And they do use many different things. This float has about 160 different types of plant material involved in its decoration. From the flaxseed on the sculpture to the ornamental grass on the gorillas, everything is very unusual. The oriental warriors have a beautiful texture created with crushed walnuts. By mixing in spices, ground peppers and onion seeds, they create different looks, such as matte blacks. White coconut chips were used to create the rabbit's coat. There is no end to what is available. Jim is always inspired by various thing he will see, even in a supermarket's produce department. He will see something and think wow that could be used for a rock road, as an example. He might see a whole potato or jicama or rutabagas and see an application. Everything botanical is available to them.

Seeing the rendering as it is completed, looking at the colors, there are some things that come to you right away, you know immediately what will work and what you'll use. But there are other things that you really have to ponder and try different things. Trial and error is the best teacher, see what works best. Eric wonders how Jim can look at a drawing, basically a 1 dimensional color drawing then create something like this float. There is so much ingenuity and creativity that goes into producing a float. Jim thinks it comes from doing this many, many years. He is constantly learning, always seeing new things and learning things from many of his other floral designer friends, plus going to various floral conventions. He can look at a rendering and some things present themselves directly, you know immediately what you are going to do and what you are going to achieve to produce that appearance. Other things are more challenging. For example, he has a building on one float that presented the hardest challenge he's had put in front of him. It is a red building that has a very lacquered look. They were able to find ilex berries and 4,000 pounds of ilex berries, which isn't something you find every day. You don't just call up your local market and ask for that. For the fur on the gorillas they found an ornamental grass that is wonderful and when properly applied looks just like a fur coat. The process is very challenging but also very rewarding to see how it all turns out.

It really is amazing. For floral design tips visit the Video Tips section of our web site.
GardenSmart :: VIDEO TIPS
Top

One of the greatest challenges must be not only KEEPING THE PLANT MATERIAL ALIVE but keeping it fresh and vibrant. And, they do a wonderful job of that. Eric wants to know if Jim has any special tips. He does. It's all in the planning, it takes a lot of work to get these materials to where they are now. He has a lot of vendors and oftentimes they bring their product to him in water. They make sure to keep the product hydrated. They use a solution when they cut the flowers, dip them in a material called Quick Dip and it makes the flowers hydrate faster. It helps pull water up into the plants, they get turgent. And they don't put anything on the float that hasn't been well conditioned because that is the secret to keeping them fresh longer. Everyone of the roses are set in their own individual water vials. That helps them. In planning they apply the more durable materials, foliage and leaves, first. The more delicate materials, things like roses and orchids, are applied towards the end. Everything is planned out almost to the hour of application. It's a long process putting it together but it all works and it is wonderful, wonderful thing to see the results after a year of planning. And there is literally a lot of magic involved.
Top

Eric can readily see there is a lot of work that goes into each float. How many FLOWERS ARE ON A TYPICAL FLOAT? Is it measured in thousands or pounds? It's thousands and thousands. A float like the one they're in front of may have 60 or 70 thousand roses besides all the other plant material. The weight alone is huge. The chassis, the steel and such, can weigh 2, 3 or 4 tons. In many cases the plant material and the flowers can equal that. There is probably a ton and a half of floral material on this particular float. It's phenomenal. And, you're dealing with a product that is primarily water and water is heavy. They don't want it to rain because rain adds a lot more weight to these vehicles which causes a lot more problems with the amount of water the flowers absorb and hold.

Eric is impressed. Everyone here has done a wonderful job. He cannot wait to see these floats rolling and in action. Thanks Jim for spending the day with us. Jim appreciates the compliment and wishes Eric a Happy New Year.
Top

Well the big day, the day of THE PARADE, is finally here. After 11 months of very careful and detailed planning, over 5 months of steel frame construction, thousands of man hours and hundreds of thousands of flowers, these floats are finally complete and they are marvelous. One of the important aspects of the Tournament of Roses Parade is the judging of the floats. Of course, that is very important to the people that design the floats. Many of the floats we followed won top honors. Mountaintop Majesty took the number one award, the Sweepstakes Award, given to the most beautiful float. Other top award winners were: The Cornucopia Float and The Mexico Float. Great job guys. Well things are about to get cranked up, so let's go watch the parade.

LINKS:

Quick Dip

Tournament of Roses

Fiesta Parade Float Company

Top

 
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