Students add final touches to 'Sneak Preview'

PASADENA — Volunteers were in an excited rush to complete the Glendale Rose Parade float Tuesday, participating in what veteran helpers said was the most anticipated part of the assembly process: adding flowers.

Assembly began for many float crews in the Pasadena warehouse Dec. 4, with naked and dusty vehicles that were then covered with urethane foam and slowly transformed with glue, seeds, grain and plants into a colorful assortment of iconic structures with distinct dimensions and even moving parts, volunteers said.

While other crews had added flowers to their floats earlier in the week, the Glendale float, a replica of the Alex Theatre called “Sneak Preview,” is mostly covered with a detailed combination of ground petals, grains, leaves and seeds, allowing organizers to delay adding the most delicate flowers until Tuesday.

“We’re in good shape,” said Steve Rhodes, a Redondo Beach resident who has helped with the Glendale float for 17 years and was directing a set of volunteers through a series of tents that were filled with thousands of flowers as the day began.

Among Tuesday’s volunteers were 14 Roosevelt Middle School students.

The group decided to volunteer during winter break, instead of staying at home or hanging out with friends, because it was a good opportunity to contribute to a city project, they said.

“I want to have fun, too, but I want my free time to help so it’ll be better,” said 12-year-old Joshua Baraceros, who explained that many of his peers may have chosen to do something else instead of volunteering.

The decision to volunteer wasn’t difficult for some students, who would have had nothing interesting to do during their winter break other than go see the popular “Twilight” movie, 13-year-old Teni Arakelian said.

Teni was working with a group of volunteers to remove the stems from carnations, then to insert toothpicks that were later used to stick the flowers into the float’s foam covering.

Some of the middle-schoolers were under the 13-year age minimum to help with the floats, but Councilman Dave Weaver, the float’s crew chief, said he makes exceptions periodically.

“As long as I watch them, I sneak them in,” said Weaver, joking that he had spoken with teachers about student behavior. “If they don’t behave, their grades will suffer.”

Although Weaver cautioned volunteers who wanted to work directly on the float, explaining that only experienced helpers could stand on a nearby scaffolding to add decorations, the crew makes an effort to allow each worker to participate in adding materials to the structure, said Sarah Hasenfus, a Northridge resident and seven-year volunteer with the Glendale team.

“Usually when the flowers go in, my job is to get everybody involved and try to get them to put their flower in the float,” she said.

Other students were helping to decorate a sign that read “City of Glendale” and were using glue to attach one carnation petal at a time to the sign.

Although the float has fewer flowers than others, nearly 14,000 will be used on the float, including 9,000 carnations, 2,600 roses and 2,000 gerberas.

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