By Earl Heath
Pasadena -- The 124th edition of the Tournament of Roses is coming together as usual way. There are just a few days before the eyes of the world view some of the most fantastic pieces of art anywhere.-The Floats. Most of them have come together over a period of months and now its time for the ‘stretch run.’
The key to the ‘stretch run’ are the volunteers. They spend hours piecing together buildings, animals, cars, rocket ships, Greek Gods and whatever else comes to the imagination of the float designers. The 2013 tournament President Sally Bixby began her tournament involvement as a volunteer 22 years ago. “I started as a barricade attendant at night,” said Bixby. “I loved every year and had a wonderful experience as a volunteer.”
Sidikat Giway is a third year nursing student at UCLA. She spends several hours a week volunteering on the nurses float appropriately named “A Healing Place”. The float itself has turtles, deer, raccoons and other animals that are put together with poppy seeds, corn silk, beans, pampas grass and other earthy items.
“This gives me a great sense,” said Giway a graduate of Westchester High. “I wanted to contribute and be a part of something special and this is it.”
Arielle Singer of Culver City works with Lions Club International. The fourteen year-old can tell you anything about the float. This is her 11th float that she has worked on over the years. “There are eleven different countries represented on this years Lions float," said Singer.
The Lions Club International has one of the most worldly floats with images representing countries that include the Taj Mahal (India), Big Ben (United kingdom), Eifel Tower (France). An Adobe Church (Mexico) and others. “ It will take about five thousand people hours to complete this float,” said Craig Stevens.” “They give their time in four and eight hour shifts.
The Lions have over 1.4 million members in 206 countries around the world. It has an incredible base of volunteers. They sponsor several high students in Southern California from Diamond Bar, Pasadena, Alhambra to West Los Angeles.
Upland California’s Julianne Smith is a by day contractor. Her company ‘For Your Walls Only’ allows her donate her time for the Home and Garden T.V. float. “This lets me work on something I am very familiar with, I am very comfortable working on this float,” said Smith.
In all there are nearly 1,000 volunteers working in one way or another with the Tournament of Roses and Phoenix Decorating.