Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Many Hands Craft Rose Parade Take Pampas Grass, Ming Moss, Hyacinth Roots, a Little Glue and You Have ... a Wolf!

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Many Hands Craft Rose Parade Take Pampas Grass, Ming Moss, Hyacinth Roots, a Little Glue and You Have ... a Wolf!

Article excerpt

`You can't see the details on TV."

The gripe was both universal and irrelevant to the float-finishing volunteers I interviewed from among hundreds here at the Rosemont Pavilion, one of six local sites buzzing like beehives to give America its most famous parade Jan. 1.

Church groups, women's groups, youth groups, Latinos, African-Americans, whites, Asians. Year after year, they all come to pour heart and soul into the painstaking floral detail that has come to separate the Tournament of Roses Parade from all other New Year's Day extravaganzas.

From Christmas to New Year's, 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., 40 to 70 volunteers per float (there are 56 floats this year) flock here from city, county, state, and across the country.

"It's incredible, I wouldn't miss it for the world," said Candice Clark, a catering manager from Denver. Ms. Clark has flown in every post-Christmas week for the past three years. "This is the parade for purists ... the criteria are so demanding."

She means the rule that every inch of every float must be covered with flowers or other natural materials such as leaves, seeds, or bark. As she stood talking, she brushed glue on the back of pampas grass, ming moss, and hyacinth roots for a lifelike wolf soon to adorn one part of a Sunkist float.

Next to her, a table of six women used eyeliner brushes to paint glue on 20-by-20-inch photographs of old-style advertisements. Then they applied the crushed or powdered remains of no less than a dozen natural substances: orange and green lentils, paprika and chile, celery seed, saffron, millet.

"It's so gratifying to see your handiwork on TV, which millions are watching ... and know you contributed," said Phyllis Rush. She's a retired banker from Orange County who has volunteered every year since 1988. Four hundred and fifty million viewers are expected to watch the parade this year in 91 countries around the world. …

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