Parade Floats Add Touch of Spice to Holiday Memories

The smell of pine will always remind Christina Iskandar of this year’s holiday season.

It’s not just because of her Christmas tree, it’s the “second skin” of pine sap and glue she developed this weekend while decorating Rotary International’s Rose Parade float.

“It took a couple of times to scrub it off and I can still smell it,” said Iskandar, 16, who spent Saturday afternoon and evening with 22 other students from Placentia’s Valencia High School pulling pine needles off branches and gluing them on the undersides of giant fake leaves.

“But it was worth it,” the Placentia resident said. “I always watch the Rose Parade a couple of times in case I missed something. This year I’ll probably watch it even more times because I can say I decorated the dark part of those leaves.”


The outing to the Rose Bowl has become an annual event for members of Valencia’s Interact Club, a student service organization sponsored by the Placentia Rotary Club.

It also has become a yearly custom for others in Orange County who help decorate parade floats, such as employees at Ruby’s Diners.

The Newport Beach restaurant company won the National Trophy last year--its first year with a float in the parade--with its depiction of life in the United States, on a float entitled “Malt Shop Memories.”

This year, Ruby’s “Entertaining Victory” float salutes the United Service Organization with a re-creation of the Hollywood Canteen, a famous USO club in Hollywood in the 1940s.


For many, each return trip to work on floats provides new and more satisfying opportunities.

Valencia student Fong Chau, 17, said she handled a lot of preparation work her first year, but by now, her third year, she’s helping to put the float together, which she prefers.

For Allison Jacobs, the actual gluing was her favorite part of the afternoon.

“It gets kind of chaotic and people are really stressed, especially because we go down really close to Jan. 1,” said Jacobs, 18. “There were also a lot of people walking around thinking we were doing some sort of exciting work, but it’s really tedious.”


Still, the Yorba Linda resident said it’s a unique atmosphere for a service project.

“There’s always people running all over with flowers and it smells good,” she said.

“It’s fun to work on it and see how all the pieces make the final product . . . on TV.”