They Made a Parade, but Nobody Came

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On Sunday I went to see the Tournament of Roses parade and-- stop ! do not turn the page; this is not on the Tournament of Roses Parade but on the 1984 Children’s Tournament of Roses Shoebox Float Contest and Miniature Parade, which I thought in some ways might be a great deal more interesting than the same old, I mean, the real thing.

I walked one end of the Pasadena Mall to the other, where it was supposed to be held, but found not hide nor hair of shoe box or float. Hence up to the office of the mall where a security guard, Steve Vanderoef, said the parade was called off because there were so few entries and opened a back room door where I could see all the floats. They sat on a table and since I don’t believe there was any television coverage, I thought I’d give you a bystander’s view.

Going clockwise around the table we first see Debbie Russell’s entry from Alhambra, which did not win a prize. Just between you and me I would have awarded it first prize hands down, not because Debbie is only 4, but because it was the most startlingly abstract, with torn pictures from magazines pasted flat on the closed box, very sophisticated. “I glued pictures of flowers and animals on a box. I did painting and then glitter,” wrote (printed) the artist. My daughter had a comment on education in general--”Just shows you what goes on before they’re tortured.”


Next to Debbie’s was the float of Christopher Allen, age 7, “Sharing Has No Season.” His float was covered with shreds of coconut--no, it wasn’t coconut, I tasted it. Was it candle wax? No, it didn’t chew. Ah, now I have it; the artist’s material is shredded wax paper.

Karleen Klassy won first place in the kindergarten and first-grade division with a classy entry. On her box, pasted with stars and stripes, a hand-drawn Statue of Liberty in brown crayon stood behind paper squares of people.

Shaunt Sarkis, 6, entered a Christmas float shoe box with a crayon drawing of a gingerbread house and a Christmas tree made of crepe paper.

A competitor, Jeffrey Lawson, also 6, also entered a Christmas float of “Santa Claus in his sled delivering gifts,” but I only read it on his entry form, because he had already taken his float home after winning third place.

Jean Melia Palria, 6, took second place in the kindergarten and first-grade category with the most structurally daring float. She had slid the box top half way off to angle back, covering it all in red, white and blue paper as “A Goodby to the Olympic Athletes” entry.

Two fourth-graders from Assumption School, Christine Martin and Mandy Sotelo, teamed up to produce “The Spirit of America, “ with giant brown crayon mountains, presumbly the San Gabriels, rising under a rainbow and a flag flying. I especially liked the nice flat oversize paper pansies pasted all around the edges of the box top.


Garine Sarkis, 9, made a carrousel of red, white and blue paper straws and cut out brown horses, appaloosas, I believe, all spotted in color--good horses!

Unique--the only fresh flower float in the shoe box parade!--Christy Russell, 10, had tossed camellias and some purple flowers on a plaid box top with curled fringe all around and had written this explanation: “Rose Red is Bassed on Easter two Rabbitts are hunting for Easter egg’s. There going throw flowers to find them.”

Jason Patria, 11, won third place in the fourth and fifth-grade division with “Spirit of America,” great rolling swaths of straw-strewn paper on which blazed a Liberty torch of red tissue paper.

Two 9-year-olds, Carl Preece and Sallimah Pisanis, were careful to put big cardboard wheels on their entry, succinctly described: “rainbow and glitter, sky wheel, flowers, sun and house.”

Another rainbowed entry took first place in the fourth and fifth-grade category, made by Maricel Baclit. She had made a Japanese garden house of Eskimo pie sticks--I would have been glad to have helped her with that medium--a grand tree with bunches of green tissue paper leaves, and a bridge of toothpicks arching over a blue-glittered river.

Another first place, “Circus Fun for Everyone,” was awarded Michael Dailey, 10, for his circus scene with pink paper towel sides.


Elaine Russell, 7, took second place in the second and third-grade entries. “It has a Liberty torch on it and lots of little flowers on it, and a gold pipe cleaner with jingle-bells on it,” she wrote on her entry form. She had made a Statue of Liberty with aluminum foil--you could just sense her hand crushing it into shape and it was astonishing how the body shape took to foil. A fine red cellophane flame burst out of the torch.

It was a little sad, standing alone in a small room with the 14 floats. “I don’t know why we had such a low turnout,” said Clair Griffith, marketing director of the mall (excuse me, we’re supposed to call it Plaza Pasadena). “We had 3,000 or 4,000 for one dress-up trick or treat at the stores for Halloween.” Well, there’s a difference between making something, thinking and working on it, and just holding your hand out for some free candy.

Speaking of art, the Plaza Pasadena has an unacknowledged masterpiece standing just opposite the security office door--a remarkable assemblage of red and black pipes, dials, gauges, handles. Not abstract--it’s their plumbing.