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Volunteers head into crunch time to build Burbank's Rose Parade float

With the Rose Parade a little more than a week away, it is now crunch time for the volunteers working on the Burbank Tournament of Roses Assn.'s float to get it ready by parade time.

Because New Year's Day lands on a Sunday, the 128th Rose Parade will wind down Colorado Boulevard in Pasadana on Jan. 2. However, the extra day to work on the float, titled "Home Tweet Home," offers little relief to those working on it.

On Wednesday inside a warehouse next to Burbank Water and Power at Olive Avenue, the association's construction team was busy putting together one of two birdhouses on the float, which was surrounded by scaffolding.

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Although the frame structure was complete and mounted onto the chassis, the volunteers still had to finish covering the frame with wood panels to allow other volunteers to paint it before the decoration team covers it with flowers and other materials.

Jon Reeves, chair for the construction committee, said the house they were working on, which is the larger of the two, needed to be repaired recently. During its second test drive earlier this month, the hydrologic mechanism that is supposed to raise the house failed and caused some damage to the house's frame.

"It was about three days of work to get the cupola all straightened out again and to get that mechanism fixed so that it wouldn't do that again," Reeves said. "So everything got sorted out. We just need to record the mechanism doing a full raise-and-lower demonstration and send a video of that to the Tournament of Roses."

Given the amount of construction that still needs to be finished by Monday so the decoration team and hundreds of volunteers can decorate the float, Reeves said they are not where he would like to be, but finishing in time for the parade "is certainly feasible."

Audrey Prest, chair of the decoration committee, is not wasting any of the free time she has while she waits for Reeves and his team to finish construction.

For the past several months, Prest has been meticulously figuring out how to decorate the float. She carries around a large white binder that contains numerous sections that identify what kinds of flowers, rice, spices or beans should be used on specific parts of the float.

As the time for decorating draws near, Prest said she has been going out to various supermarkets and purchasing the materials needed. There are bins containing finely grounded sweet rice, course yellow split peas and other items ready to be used by hundreds of volunteers.

"We'll have easily 300 volunteers on some days during next week," Prest said. "They're not all here at the same time. Some may stay here for a couple of hours, while others will stay for 12 hours."

Toluca Woods resident Cleo Mannell was one of those volunteers looking to contribute to building the float before the rush of people arrive to decorate.

Even with the construction team behind schedule, Mannell, who has helped work on five other floats, said she is not worried about the float being ready for millions of people to see in January.

"We've done it before," she said.

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Anthony Clark Carpio, anthonyclark.carpio@latimes.com

Twitter: @acocarpio

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