About a dozen people gathered in a warehouse near the Downtown Metrolink Station Saturday, diligently at work on Burbank’s “The Dream Machine” float for the Rose Parade.
A man with his hair in a ponytail, wearing a welder’s mask, sat on the floor, twisting, reaching and maneuvering his welding torch as sparks flew around him.
Semicircular wires lined the lower sides of the float, its metal and wood shape hinting at what is to come.
“I’m shaping the front edge of the float,” said Jon Reeves, who is working on his 10th float. “I’ve been building these clouds now for a couple of weeks and sort of finishing off where it ties into the main part of the base.”
“And at the moment, I built this piece a little bit low, and I need to adjust it so that it meets our minimum ground clearance,” Reeves, also the secretary for the Burbank Tournament of Roses Assn., said as he hammered at a section of wire.
A wood brick, 8 inches tall, serves as an indicator of the needed height.
“I learned it all at the float,” Reeves said. “I like to joke that I failed wood shop and art class in high school, but this is metal shop, so this is different,” he said.
“The Dream Machine” features a boy sleeping on his bed on a cloud, dreaming of what he could become.
The float is in keeping with the “Just imagine ... “ theme of the parade to be held Jan. 2 in Pasadena.
The major pieces were in place, including the bed at the front of the float and the rocket in the back, although there is still some work needed to get the rocket to look like it’s carrying the boy into space, Reeves said.
Bob Symons, a board member in charge of construction, said the goal was to get the major construction done by Thanksgiving weekend.
“At that time we actually shoot the foam and prep for the flowers, the cocooning,” he said. “That way after Thanksgiving they can start priming and painting the surface for decoration.”
Roberta Luster and her husband Victor Luster, a member of the association’s board of directors and the float’s design chair, were also among the volunteers.
“Then we’re able to walk on [the float], it’s stiffer, like a cast,” Roberta Luster said, describing what happens during the cocooning phase. “After that process, the entire float is painted white. From that step, we take each section and piece, and paint it the color of what the flower is going to be. The reason why, if any of the flower falls off, we are tricking your eyes, so you don’t see a bare spot.”
It’s a busy time, Luster said, although work is done on the float all year.
On Dec. 10 another test drive is scheduled for the Rose Parade.
“Basically the thing has to be parade ready, just short of decoration, so it has to be painted and ready to go,” Symons said. “At that time, they check the crew quarters, check for safety issues, run a fire drill to make sure its structurally sound and make sure there are no problems with animation. We drive it down the street for them, they check it out and then they give us a list of what needs to be fixed.”