December 31, 2015 | Rose Bowl
The magic of the Rose Parade, and creating a float for it, always comes down to a lightening fast finish, which insiders have dubbed Volunteer Week. It’s the final few days before the parade steps off, typically December 26th-31st. During this time volunteers work in teams to take bulk deliveries of flowers and natural materials and prep and apply them to floats.
For Northwestern Mutual’s Dancing Into Adventure float, teams of about 75 volunteers will work in two shifts, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. and 4 p.m. – midnight. It is very common for groups like local Girl Scout troops, high school bands and others, to operate as volunteers for companies like Tim Estes’ Fiesta Parade Floats. In exchange, Estes makes a donation to each organization, “many groups use this as a big fundraiser,” he says.
During Decoration Week Estes says he sleeps on a mattress in his office. There’s no time to be away from his team and their creations. He says there are some very time consuming aspects of decorating that many people don’t realize, “For every one hour of decorating there’s three to three-and-a-half hours of prepping the materials.”
Material preparation starts in mid-November when crews take thousands of water vials for flowers and clean them, dry them, bleach them and fill them with water. Estes says, “We use about 400,000 of those.” He says his Girl Scout volunteers usually take two weekends just to do this one not-so-simple task.
Come December 26th, the fresh flowers arrive. Estes says staffers lead volunteer teams who follow step-by-step instructions to apply the materials, “We can look at the plan we’ve created and then look at the float and tell right away if we’re on schedule or off schedule.”
Come New Year’s Day Estes says, “I expect people to see a really fabulous, beautiful float that helps project an adventure from a very wondrous young lady. It’s a great story. I just love doing stuff for kids because I’m still a kid myself. I just think Peyton’s going to have a blast!”