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Burbank float to honor wildfire victims with message of rebirth

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“Rise Up,” the title of the Burbank Tournament of Roses Assn.'s float for the upcoming Rose Parade is inspired by rebirth after the wildfires that devastated the state last year.
(Courtesy of the Burbank Tournament of Roses Assn.)

Volunteers with the Burbank Tournament of Roses Assn. have been known to build some amusing and cute floats in the past, but their upcoming creation for the next Rose Parade in Pasadena will have a more serious but meaningful tone.

“Rise Up,” the title of Burbank’s float for the 2020 parade on New Year’s Day, is a message to those affected by wildfires throughout the state last year that the future looks bright.

Ginny Barnett, the association’s president, said the organization’s float aligns nicely with the theme of the 2020 Tournament of Roses Parade, which is “The Power of Hope.”

Plans call for the Burbank float to depict a phoenix rising from the ashes and surrounded by new foliage.

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Barnett said the float was designed by first-time winner Lisa Long, who lives in Dublin, a Northern California city in Alameda County.

“She wanted to let the people know, both the people in the northern part of the state and those that were affected by the fires down here, that we can come back from a tragedy like that,” Barnett said. “She wanted to pay homage to all of the first responders and all of the firefighters that helped.”

The concept created by Long hit home for Barnett, who is a volunteer with the Burbank Fire Corp.

Barnett said she remembers vividly the work that had to be done to protect the homes in the area hillsides when fires threatened those properties during the La Tuna fire in September 2017.

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She also had several friends who lived in Paradise, which was devastated by a wildfire last year.

“I know what these firefighters go through and know what they do to save structures and to put these fires out,” she said.

Because it isn’t the usual whimsical float that local volunteers tend to build each year, Barnett said creating this float has been a challenge for some association members.

She said the organization is focusing on incorporating more natural materials on the float and possibly adding succulent plants.

In terms of animation, Barnett said the construction team is keeping the float simple, for the most part. The head of the phoenix is planned to swivel a little and the wings might flap slightly.

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