Community: Parade's future theme inspired by the past

Some participants in this Saturday's Burbank On Parade pay homage to films and TV shows of the past in their depictions of the theme “Burbank — City of the Future.”

The parade will kick off at 11 a.m. and travel east along Olive Avenue from Keystone to Lomita streets.

Volunteers with the Burbank Tournament of Roses Assn. have taken the locomotive from this year's Rose Float and created a smaller design and mounted it onto an all-terrain vehicle, said Robert Symons, chairman of the association's entry titled “Back to the Future.”

The locomotive is being driven by the conductor character who was on the off-camera side of the Rose Float. He's a cute older fella clad in blue overalls. His animated face features wide eyes and a white beard and mustache. His hat is stamped with a big red “B.” The engine is pulling a coal car and plopped inside is the SpongeBob SquarePants character plucked from the “Centennial Celebration” float that appeared in the 2011 Rose Parade.

Volunteers have tried to mimic the train engine that was used in the movie “Back to the Future, Part III”, Symons said. At the end of the film, the Doc and Marty McFly rev up a locomotive to it top speed to hurl themselves back to the present.

“In our version, they have a hitchhiker — SpongeBob SquarePants,” he added.

Robert Symons’ favorite part of building the floats is working alongside his dad, Bob Symons, and his friends, he said.

“We take pride in showing our friends who we went to high school with what we've done,” he said. “We tell them, ‘go check out what we did for the Rose Parade float.’”

Nowadays, he does the welding on the floats.

Robert Symons is 21, but his grandmother used to bring him down to see the float when he was 5 or 6. He started building floats in 2002.

Helping Robert on the Burbank On Parade float was longtime friend Brian Cozakos, 22, who has been coming to work on the floats since he was 4.

“The first thing they let me do was fill the vials with water,” Cozakos said. Individual flowers are placed in the vials to keep them fresher longer.

The float will be on display for a couple hours after the parade in the Izay Park parking lot on Clark Avenue.

Members of BCR “a place to grow,” a center for developmentally disabled children and adults, also looked to the past for inspiration for their entry.

This year, they will dress like the characters from “The Jetsons” animated TV series, said Cynde Bost, floats and novelty chairman for Burbank On Parade.

Marie Songstad, who has a daughter in the program, has organized the group's entry for many years. She made all the pirate costumes for their “Pirates of the Caribbean” entry in last year's “Let's Go to the Movies” parade.

“She is so creative and begins making their costumes as soon as I give her the theme,” Bost said.

And the center's clients are so happy to ride in the parade, she added.

“They wave at me and yell “Hi CYNDE” every time I pass them in the formation area,” she said. “Last year, I was asked to go to the school and present them with their ribbon for winning first place in novelties, and I actually could not contain myself, I had tears of joy!”

This year's parade features grand marshal Rebecca Mieliwocki, along with government officials, bands, equestrian units, classic vehicles and the Star Cars that have entered two DeLoreans from the “Back to the Future” film series.

The goal of the parade, said Carey Briggs, president of Burbank on Parade, is to showcase what makes Burbank a great community.

“This event is one of the last true links to our past,” he said. “The parade was started as a spring celebration in 1944 to salute our troops who made our town proud by serving in World War II. We continue the tradition by looking for new and exciting ways to celebrate our great town.”

Food trucks will be set up from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the parking lot behind Joslyn Adult Center, 1301 W. Olive Ave. After the parade in the same location, there will be an awards ceremony for entries followed by Radio Centro 93.9 disc jockey El Gato Volador playing music and giving away prizes.


JOYCE RUDOLPH can be contacted at

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