Rose float gearing up to roar

Dustin Crumb doesn’t normally work on dinosaurs, but on Monday evening his official La Cañada Flintridge Tournament of Rose Assn. T-shirt was covered in grime from a long day of building a brontosaurus.

Crumb, a mechanical engineer from Pasadena, said fabricating the prehistoric beast from metal, foam and eventually flowers is well within the skill set of his volunteer crew.

“There’s a lot of tribal knowledge that gets passed down” through years of building Rose Parade floats, said Crumb, who has worked on floats for 15 years. “We have some incredibly talented engineers and artists that volunteer their time.

“We have a lot of people who know how to weld,” he added. “And if they don’t know, we’ll teach them how.”

On New Year’s Day, the 42-foot long, 23-foot high green dinosaur will cruise down Colorado Boulevard as La Cañada ’s 35th Rose Parade entry.

On Monday, the brontosaurus was still a steel skeleton. But volunteers had started spraying foam across its base and turning the cloth-covered framework into a solid surface that would be ready to hold more than 19,000 roses, carnations, orchids and mums.

Ann Neilson, the president of the La Cañada tournament association, said that the design by Jacob Maitless, based on a concept by local Janice Peterson, is going to turn heads.

“It’s a great design, and I think that it’s one large figure is going to be very impressive going down Colorado Boulevard,” she said.

La Cañada’s float is volunteer-made, joining South Pasadena, Burbank, Sierra Madre, Downey and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in the Rose Parade’s self-built category.

All in all, volunteers will put in more than 45,000 hours between June 1 and the day of the parade, according to Neilson.

“It’s a huge amount of work, just the head [is] 121 hours,” said Neilson. “Ten hours to weld the frame, 85 hours of the shaping, and then to foam it... if they didn’t start by the first of June they’d never get it done.”

The float will extend 55 feet and weigh 30,000 pounds. It will be powered by propane engines, she said. The association raises around $100,000 annually to pay for raw materials.

Richard De Jesu, chairman of the Tournament of Roses Judging Committee, said the tournament takes into account the volunteer efforts when judging floats.

“La Cañada’s is a smaller float. It’s self built. How’s that going to compare to, say China Airlines?” he said. “So we try to put [floats] in like categories and assess the awards on that.”

La Cañada has won a trophy 23 times in the 34 years it has entered a float. In 2012 “If Pigs Could Fly” float won the tournament’s Bob Hope Humor Award.

Neilson said she believes the 2013 float has a shot at the awards for humor, best animation and best volunteer-built float, but she is gunning for the theme award.

“The theme of the parade is ‘Oh, the Places You’ll Go!’ and our dinosaur is really wanting to go places, with his roller skate legs and his funny little wings on the top of him,” she said.

Crumb said that the camaraderie and accomplishment of working on La Cañada’s float is what keeps the volunteers coming back.

“It’ll get into your blood,” he said.


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