Glendale's float a favorite

Volunteers put the finishing touches Wednesday on Glendale’s Rose Parade float, which has unexpectedly turned into a fan favorite and a part of the procession’s finale, organizers said.

The city’s 33-foot-long float, titled “America’s Pride” and featuring a 22-foot-tall bald eagle, will be the final float in Friday’s parade and will turn onto Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena in coordination with a flyover from a set of Navy jets at 9:56 a.m.

The float will also be preceded by a marching band and 300 Eagle Scouts who will unfurl American flags in celebration of the Boy Scouts of America’s 100th year.

“We’re the climax of the parade,” said Councilman Dave Weaver, volunteer crew chief for Phoenix Decorating Co., which designed the float.

Glendale float’s emergence as a favorite for the parade finale was somewhat unexpected after members of the city’s Parks, Recreation and Community Services Commission voiced concerns about the design.

Commissioners unanimously approved the concept, but criticized it as too generic and not unique to Glendale. They voiced more of a preference for a design like that of the 2009 float, which was modeled after the Alex Theatre on Brand Boulevard.

But the Glendale Rose Float Assn.’s plan to construct a float that would represent the city’s parks and outdoor spaces, while also having broad appeal as a patriotic symbol, seemed to have caught on with admirers and parade organizers, Weaver said.

The float also stood out from others because of the details involved in its design, he said.

While other floats utilize thousands of flowers to create massive structures, like a 54-foot-tall band member covered with 22,000 red carnations on a float from Farmers Insurance Group, Glendale’s eagle is covered with a combination of palm bark, corn husk, pampas grass and a variety of ground plant-based materials that were combined and blended to color the figure’s eyes, beak, tongue and talons, Weaver said.

Crescenta Valley High School senior Sarah Whang was one of four volunteers who spent two days decorating the eagle’s head.

“It took a while,” she said.

The group used pampas grass, gathered in Glendale by the city’s Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department, to cover the head, then turned to a combination of ground orange lentils and yellow straw flower for the beak, volunteers said.

“It looked really simple,” Whang said of the initial design drawings of a large eagle atop an outdoor landscape. “But the materials are so complex and there’s so much detail in there.”

Volunteers used ground seaweed and lettuce for the eyes and incorporated a combination of whole orange lentils, yellow split peas, popcorn kernels and seaweed for the talons, said Assistant Crew Chief Bruce Cleal, who has worked on the annual float for 13 years.

Cleal had recommended some materials from Glendale, like the pampas grass and the paper bark found on mushrooms in the float’s landscape, he said.

The detail-oriented Glendale design was perhaps most exemplified in a color version of the city’s seal, which was incorporated into signs on the float for the first time, said volunteer Cathy Smith, of Montrose.

Volunteers used ground spices, grains and lentils to create a colorful reproduction of the seal.

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