i'd volunteered my services, as well as that of the hub and the teen, to help decorate floats for the upcoming annual rose parade. it was a junior league gig, and one which would fulfill my volunteering quota for the year as well as to do something i've always wanted to. not to mention, it was a rare opportunity to do something JLP-related with my family.
we arrived at fiesta floats in nearby irwindale right on time, after picking up the teen from BFF's house. i'd thought BFF was joining us, but she was still sound asleep and the teen was grumpy from lack of rest and having to leave her behind. i was tired, my stupid knee was still sore, and i was missing the bean, so i wasn't exactly a barrel of fun myself. "oh great, everyone's cranky," the hub muttered under his breath.
i headed to what looked like a check-in table, only to find clipboard upon clipboard of girl scout troop sign-in sheets. huh. and then i found my fellow junior leaguers, wandering around aimlessly as we were, looking for our leader. we huddled together for a few minutes, wondering where we should go, and then she showed up along with the rest of our group. yay!
as we walked into the huge, freezing warehouse, i busted out the camera and started snapping. i wondered if it was cool to post this stuff nearly three weeks before the parade, but i can't imagine that i have any tournament of roses judges as readers, can you?
after a little back-and-forth with some of the red-jacketed fiesta float employees, we were finally split into groups and put to work. we picked our way through the groups of girl scout volunteers, who were sitting in circles with scissors and clipping petals off of colorful, fragrant flowers.
my stomach grumbled as i eyed the grub for lunch - still hours away.
see how excited the teen was to be there? heh.
our task was to separate bales upon bales of corn husks and then run them through these contraptions that would heat and flatten them out. too bad someone had left the heat on this iron turned on, but not the roller - it ended up burning the shit outta the roller, rendering it useless for the day.
we dutifully separated and fed those corn husks, filling bag after bag. the warmed husks sent up an aroma that made my stomach grumble even more as i thought of delicious tamales that they're usually wrapped around. food. always on my mind.
the rest of our crew sat around on upturned plastic tubs, separating and cleaning a gazillion husks.
before we broke for lunch, we managed to pose for a quickie group shot.
i'd never been so happy to chew on a subway sandwich in my life. i didn't even bother with mayo or anything, i ate that shit dry and enjoyed every bite. the teen chomped through her veggie sandwich as quickly as i did, and then we sat on the ground and munched on bags of chips.
i'd been trying to avoid drinking much of anything, despite the case of bottled water available, because i didn't want to have to hit these up:
ew. i hate port-o-potties more than anything. but i threw caution to the wind and cracked open a water - after eating my lunch, i was super thirsty. oh, well. i hoped i'd just stay busy and not even think about having to pee.
when we returned to our station, i noticed that the hordes of girl scouts had dwindled down considerably.
after a while, our leader motioned us over to take a break and go on a tour of the warehouse, led by a rose parade volunteer. she walked us through the various floats in different stages of construction and gave us a great overview. she'd started out as one of those girl scout volunteers, which eventually led her to volunteer with the tournament when she got older, and this is her 21st year of working with them.
she told us that there are about 40 floats in this year's parade - which is down from the usual 50+. operation downsize is in effect everywhere, and parade floats didn't make the cut for a lot of corporations. the smaller floats, sponsored by cities and various organizations, cost around $75,000 - but the supersized ones that are usually done by companies like FTD (which pulled out for 2010) can cost anywhere from $150,000 all the way up to $300,000. yikes.
here's this year's parade theme.
more volunteers and floats in progress.
this float caught our attention - it's sponsored by natural balance dog food, and i remembered that they'd had a really fun float last year. it featured the skateboarding bulldogs, and this year they've made it even cooler. come january 1st, there'll be five dogs on board - and they'll be snowboarding down that ramp.
see these little house-shaped kennel thingys? they're going to be riding in there, hauled up to the top of the ramp with pulleys, and then hitting the ramp to snowboard their way down. it's like a little doggy ski lift! i can't wait to see it.
still more floats.
this float is sponsored by my old hometown - the city of duarte, along with city of hope hospital. it'll be decorated with giant fruits and vegetables and current cancer patients at the hospital will be riding it along the parade route. we learned that this float would be using all of those corn husks we were working on so diligently.
this little door on the side of the float opens to the driver's area. if you're ever in pasadena, you might notice the pink and blue painted lines all down colorado boulevard. since the driver can't see anything but the road as they navigate their way down the route, those lines represent the direction that they're supposed to drive in. i can't even imagine having to spend hours in that little hole - i'd be claustrophobic like a mofo.
this company creates and builds floats for parades year-round - city parades, the hollywood christmas parade, cinco de mayo, you name it. i never stopped to consider who worked on those parades before, and now i know - they're right here.
i pointed to this float and said to the teen "look at this one - if you play your cards right, you could be rocking a tiara and waving to millions of people as you glide past!" i got the side eye in return. i also told her that i'd heard that the rose queen gets 150+ new outfits to wear for all of her appearances during her reign. there was a glimmer of interest until she realized she wouldn't actually get to pick those outfits. ha!
okay, you know i was gonna do this. i wished i had my tiara, but i made do.
here's the fruits of our labor - damn near six hours' worth of work, all neatly bagged up.
the teen was so bored, she was ready to pick this up and smack someone with it.
as we left, i realized that the hordes had been replaced with a whole new shift of girl scout volunteers.
we were pretty happy to be done and outta there.
as happy as i look here, i wasn't nearly as excited as the teen to be sprung free:
granted, she was extra excited because we'd handed her the car key and let her pull it out of the parking spot. ah, i remember the days when it was thrilling to get behind the wheel and do a little forbidden (and illegal) driving.
and it turns out that we won't be heading out to camp on colorado boulevard after all this year. we're afraid that the bean's potty training process will get all fucked up, and when the teen overheard me talking about it with MIL, she was semi-outraged: "what? we're gonna do that again??" never mind that it had been her idea to begin with - apparently, she'd forgotten that little tidbit of information. heh.
so now we're totally open for new year's. whee! wonder what we'll come up with.