By RHEA-FRANCES TETLEY
When New Year’s Day arrives, almost everyone in Southern California and nationwide is glued to their televisions, watching Pasadena’s annual Rose Parade. The New Year’s Day parade in Pasadena is one of the few all-floral parades in the country. Most of the final couple of weeks of work is done by volunteers; usually every year someone from Crestline goes to volunteer to work on the floats.
This year, two Crestline business owners took time from their businesses to drive toward Los Angeles and apply flowers and seeds and other natural materials onto the floats so they could motor down Colorado Boulevard on New Year’s Day.
Rosemarie Labadie of Crestline Real Estate spent several days driving to the Fiesta Floats Company in Irwindale and worked on two floats over several days.
“I was able to work on the Shriners’ float as a memorial to my husband, Dennis, and the Lions’ float, since I am a Lioness,” Labadie said. “It is so wonderful volunteering with other interesting people, doing something so selfless, and then to get to see it go down the parade route on New Year’s Day on television was thrilling. I did dried work early on and some individual roses and live flowers, too.”
Gary Lopez of Crestline’s Treasure Box is a bundle of energy. He spent several days driving to Azusa to work on the Kaiser Permanente float at Phoenix Floats.
“It was cold working in that huge building, but I understand that it’s to keep the flowers fresh. It is so much fun,” Lopez said. “I took friends some days and kept going back several days before the parade. I hope to do this again in future years.”
The first Rose Parade was held on Jan. 1, 1890, in Pasadena. In 1949, Crestline once had its own float in the Rose Parade, with the theme of “The Old Fishing Place,” although Lake Gregory at the time was only 10 years old. It had a big fish popping its head out of the mostly pink lake with a wagon wheel in the rear. In 1930, the community of Lake Arrowhead entered a float celebrating the mountain’s winter snow sports, featuring a huge sleigh with flowered reindeer pulling it.
Most every year, many local Rotarians carpool and go to work on the Rotary float. In 2019, Big Bear had its first float in the parade and many mountain folks went to work on it. That float featured skiing bears and bald eagles, with fishermen dipping into a lake made of flowers. It was sponsored by the nonprofit Big Bear Rose Parade Float Association, made up of community volunteers. It took several years to accomplish their dream. The motivation was to generate and inspire interest in visiting and preserving the mountain environment of Big Bear.
The final design for that float was chosen in the summer of 2018 and volunteers began applying the dry elements on the float on Dec. 2, working through to Dec. 31. Their hard work was appreciated. They won the Golden State Award, for the best depiction of life in California. It was built in Irwindale by Fiesta Floats.
The theme for the 131st, 2020 Rose Parade was the Power of Hope. It featured 40 floats, 17 equestrian units with over 450 horses, and had 20 marching bands.
“I was fortunate to get to march in the Rose Parade while in high school,” Lopez noted. “That inspired me to volunteer. It felt so exciting to see the floats while they are being worked on. Now, after working on them, I could better appreciate all that goes into creating a float.
“Then, with friends I went to see the parade in person on New Year’s Day,” Lopez said. “I felt such pride in not only ‘my’ float, but in all of them – truly
an inspirational experience I hope to repeat often.”