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Making Peyton's Dream a Reality

December 29, 2015 | Rose Bowl

Peyton Richardson’s dream adventure is the catalyst for this year’s Northwestern Mutual float in the Rose Parade. But her Dancing Into Adventure theme is being carried out into reality by the brilliant minds at Fiesta Parade Floats in Pasadena, California.

The company’s president, Tim Estes, has been around parade floats since he was 8 years old. Today, he navigates the 130-page Rose Parade rulebook and walks the tightrope between a little girl’s dream of seeing the best dance companies in the world, and the reality of creating it in flowers., “I just have fun making these things work and move and animate and at the same time, look good.”

Creating Magic

The process starts with the team building a 3-D scale model of the float concept, in this case, Peyton’s dancing dream. The 55-inch models help the team game plan which parts of the float will move, which parts of the float may need to be moved to look better and what flowers may eventually be used to decorate it.

Believe it or not, the flowers being used can effect how a float is created. Some require different structures than others. Estes says they think of everything, even the thickness of the materials being used, “Solid roses in water vials that stick up need 5-inches of clearance, or is it just the onion seed that only requires 1/16th of an inch clearance.”

This One’s Special

Estes says for this year’s Dancing Into Adventure float, he got inspiration not only from Peyton’s dream adventure, but from Peyton herself, “What a really bubbly kid! I have three daughters so I can appreciate having a daughter and she just seems really energetic, really up, despite her issues with leukemia.”

As Estes heard more of Peyton’s story, the vision of a worldwide dance adventure came into being. Five designers created concepts for the float and the process finally narrowed to one that Estes says created, “that really nice ballet feel.”

The float will feature ballet slippers, oversized graceful swans adorned with the childhood awareness gold ribbon, a large music box with a rotating key and a dancing ballerina coming out of the top, and four buildings representing parts of the world that Peyton wants to go see, including: New York, London, St. Petersburg and Sydney. “We’re just trying to keep a dream adventure feel,” says Estes, “I think it will be a really lush float.” And sitting at the front of the float waving to the crowd will be Peyton and her parents. Estes says, “I just hope they realize what a special kid she is.”

Dream a Reality

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