Parade Workers Pick Up the Pace

Times Staff Writer

The programs have been printed, most of the viewing stands have gone up and many of the floats are almost finished.

But there is still plenty of work to do on the 1986 Rose Parade.

For instance, the first of what will eventually be a herd of 18 motorized elephant figures has been taking Sunday afternoon practice spins along Raymond Street in Pasadena.

The finishing touches are being applied to another float that builders hope will be the tallest ever to appear in the parade.


And many of the 100,000 grandstand seats being installed along the parade route are almost ready for inspection.

“Each day it picks up,” said William Flinn, director of public

relations for the Tournament of Roses Assn., referring to the work on the parade.

The association has been preparing for the parade since the summer of 1984 to ensure that all will go well for the 6,000 people who will march in the parade and the 1 million people who will attend it. Flinn said that there will be 60 floats, 22 bands and 270 equestrians in the parade.


Among those working hardest are the eight decorating companies, five cities and one university working on the floats. Each is trying to build the longest, tallest, best animated or most beautiful float.

“They are all in competition with each other,” said Flinn. “Each float builder is looking for something he can claim for his own.”

18 Elephants

At C. E. Bent & Son of Pasadena, and its subsidiary, Pasadena Decorating Co., which are building 21 floats, workers are scrambling to make sure that the 18 motorized elephants that are part of the “Harmony Herd Around the World” will work properly on New Year’s Day.


Bent said that the elephants in the Harmony Herd, sponsored by Computerland Corp., will make that entry the one with the most independent units to ever take part in the parade.

The 16-foot-tall elephants are actually all-terrain vehicles that will be covered with steel, chicken wire, window screening, sprayed-on foam, paint and flowers. Arnie Wong, Bent’s marketing director, said that “the toughest thing is it’s 18 of everything.”

Members of the Pasadena Motorcycle Club will drive the elephants, which will be able to turn their heads from side to side, move their legs and wiggle their ears.

Elephants are also a part of one of the 15 floats being built by Fiesta Floats Co. in Temple City.


Workers are putting the finishing touches on four life-size elephant figures that will ride on a float called “Celebration of Laughter,” sponsored by Small World Greetings Inc.

The celebration of laughter is the theme of the 1986 parade and the Small World float will be the first in the parade.

The elephants will be covered with five to six tons of gray ming moss, camellias, orchid blossoms, chrysanthemums and other flowers from all over the world.

Last week, about 20 Fiesta workers labored in a large lot off Lower Azusa Road on eight-foot-wide butterflies, huge monkeys and a potpourri of other animals that will be attached to the Fiesta floats.



The animals have all been painted in 30 bright colors that will serve as codes for workers who will begin applying live flowers to the floats the day after Christmas. Fiesta expects about 2,000 volunteers, including church groups, high school bands, college groups and booster clubs, to participate.

Fiesta has won the sweepstakes award for the most beautiful float in eight of the last 10 years. A confident Don Anderson, one of the owners of Fiesta, said that at least 10 of the Fiesta floats are “serious candidates” for the top prize on Jan. 1.

Meanwhile, workers at Festival Artists Inc. of Pasadena are busy completing what they hope will be the tallest float ever to appear in the parade. “All the World Loves a Clown,” sponsored by American Honda, will feature a clown that will do a handstand on a see-saw. It will extend to 60 feet.


Festival is building seven other floats, including the Queen’s Float.

Certain Expertise

Rick Chapman, president of the firm, said that most float companies have a reputation for expertise with a certain kind of float.

“We’re known as the entertainers of the parade. Fiesta Floats are the floral wizards of the parade, and C. E. Bent & Son Inc. are the backbone of the parade because they build more than 20 floats, which is a third of the parade.”


There is “intense competitiveness to divvy up the 60 bids for our business,” Chapman said. “But there is still a camaraderie to put on a parade.”

American Decorating Co., which is building six floats, points proudly to the double Ferris wheel on its “Texas Sesquicentennial” float for the Farmer’s Insurance Group. This will be the first float to have a revolving double Ferris wheel, said Dick Hubbard, president and owner of the Pasadena decorating company.

Almost Sold Out

Viewing stands along the 5 1/2-mile parade route up Orange Grove Boulevard and along Colorado Boulevard have been going up since early November and will be ready for inspection early next month. Tickets for the 100,000 grandstand seats are almost sold out, said Tournament of Roses Assn. officials.


About 250,000 official parade programs have been printed and ready for distribution on New Year’s Day.

But even before work is completed on the 1986 parade, Flinn is already thinking ahead.

“We’re already working on the 1987 parade,” he said.

“We don’t procrastinate in an event like this. After 97 years we have to have our act together.”