Students stop and smell the roses

PASADENA — A legion of students from across California decorated floats that appeared in Saturday's Tournament of Roses Parade. These included about a dozen students from Orange Coast College and three students from Estancia High School in Costa Mesa.

They were among an estimated 300 students from Orange County who boarded charter buses bound for Pasadena early Wednesday morning, when rain returned to the Southland.

The local students made the trek north to help the Kiwanis International service club decorate its Rose Parade float and other floats.

"Frankly, I don't know what we'd do without them," said Jeff Dimsdale of Kiwanis International, who chaperoned the students from Orange County on the trip to and from Pasadena.

The three Estancia students' decorating earned them time toward their 40 hours of community service required for graduation.

They also decided to do a little decorating because, they said, it's fun to contribute to something as widely recognized as the Rose Parade.

"It's going to be cool to see what we're doing now suddenly show up on television," said Dylan Gaitan, a junior at Estancia. "I've always watched the parade when I was little with my parents, and it's going to be fun to be a part of it now."

The Kiwanis float featured toad school houses and flowers, along with hummingbirds, dragonflies and lady bugs.

Junior Lauren Peterson, 16, cut petals off flowers and glued them to parade floats, including the city of Alhambra's.

Its float depicted elements of its Chinese sister city, Rizhao, and mixed in images of a "rising yellow sun" with Alhambra's small sky line. Papier mâché balloons were also part of that float's getup.

Peterson said she likes decorating floats and being a member of Kiwanis. She said the organization teaches her how to become more active in the community.

Jonathan Cao-Nguyen, an Orange Coast College student, also helped cut off petals.

"We went through two barrels of flowers in a matter of minutes, just taking off the petals and throwing away the stems, taking out the bulbs," said Cao-Nguyen, 19. "It's tiring and it's a long shift, but it's worthwhile to see it all in the parade."

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