Putting in the Hours (and the Flowers)

Watch how a Rose Parade float is made.

Pasadena Tournament of Roses

The journey of a Rose Parade float from the warehouse in which it is first constructed to Colorado Boulevard on New Year's Day -- or, in the case of next year, the day after New Year's Day -- is a tale of big and small.

The big part? Well, participating in the Tournament of Roses is a mighty major deal, given that it is just about the country's most famous parade (hugs, Macy's; we know you wear that crown, too). And the planning and infrastructure of the floats is beyond impressive; certainly these made-for-a-day machines outstrip many buildings meant to last decades, both in durability and design.

But the small part comes in what goes on the floats, namely the pods and flowers and petals and other organic material. See any one vessel from a distance and it might appear to be a massive swath of yellow and green; look closer, much closer, and you see a sea of wee leaves, each one applied by the hand of a patient volunteer.

The detail lovers will be out admiring the decorating of the floats from Thursday, Dec. 29 through Sun., Jan. 1 (seems funny to watch the float decorating on Jan. 1, but that's how it is going in 2012, given the Rose Parade's never-on-a-Sunday rule). There are a trio of places to watch: Brookside Pavilion, Rosemont Pavilion, and the Rose Palace. A ticket is ten bucks, and kids under five get in for free.

Note that if enough people show up to watch, the doors'll close. Period. So arrive early. But "arrive early" is just a good policy, in general, for all things Tournament of Roses.

Now, how many petals can you count on the float you're watching come together? One, two, three, four thousand, fifteen thousand...

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