Float Depicts a Whimsical Freeway Jam : Santa Ana Garners Rose Parade Trophy

Times Staff Writer

An investment of thousands of dollars and volunteer work hours had a rosy New Year's Day payoff for the City of Santa Ana on Wednesday.

For the second consecutive year, Santa Ana's entry in the Pasadena Tournament of Roses parade earned an award, this year for its whimsical "Friday on the Freeway" float depicting the humorous side of world-famous Southern California traffic jams. Judges awarded Santa Ana the Pioneer Trophy, for best characterization of the romance of California.

"For the second year in a row, we've put together a winning team," Mayor Daniel Griset announced in a statement released through City Hall. Last year's float--"Architects of Freedom"--collected the theme trophy for most fitting representation of the parade theme. It was Santa Ana's first entry in the parade in 35 years.

Santa Ana's float was one of two Orange County entries in this year's Rose Parade. The other was Mission Viejo's "California Fiesta" float, celebrating the community's 20th anniversary.

The Santa Ana float featured a two-level freeway along which a broken-down farm truck had scattered its cargo of chickens, a donkey and a cow. The hapless drivers involved included a college girl in a convertible, a little old lady in a Volkswagen Beetle, a motorcycle policeman and a surfer, with a helicopter hovering over the whole mess. The float was 17 feet high, 19 feet wide and 65 feet long.

"I can't think of a more appropriate celebration of laughter than this whimsical, happy freeway scene, and I guess the judges agree," Griset said. "This is a product of untold hours of dedicated work by a thousand volunteers."

A spokesman for the city said Santa Ana students, senior citizens, nuns and residents of nearby cities such as Huntington Beach and Garden Grove were among the volunteers who took buses from Orange County to the San Gabriel Valley assembly site for round-the-clock holiday decorating shifts.

The float was designed by C.E. Bent & Son of Pasadena on a budget of $80,000. The Santa Ana spokesman said half of the money came from the city and the other half was donated.

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