Inside the Capitol

Friday, December 23, 2005

12-30 Rose Parade

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- Over 100 New Mexicans from throughout the state are descending on Pasadena, California in the days following Christmas to put the finishing touches on the state of New Mexico's first-ever Rose Parade entry.
This will be a float like none of us have ever built. This is professional -- no napkins, no cardboard, no paint. The superstructures of these masterpieces have been under construction almost since the last Rose Parade
We are coming in to add the tens of thousands of flowers and other living and recently living touches, such as bark, seeds and leaves that will cover the entire surface of everything on the float.
The number of flowers on a float exceeds the amount that an average American florist will use in five years of operation. Many of these flowers will be placed in individual vials of water and set into the float one by one.
We understand our float will have many types of beans to provide the earth tones of a pueblo. And we are told to expect to be covered in glue, petals, leaves and who knows what else by the time our shifts are over.
We will work under the direction of Neil and Jeremy Conrad, two supervisors who report to Jim Hynd, the vice president and floral director of Fiesta Parade Floats, the premier float builders of the Rose Parade.
They have a decoration manual listing the materials we will use, the method of application and when we will decorate each item on the float.
They know, in four-hour increments, what will be decorated on every square inch of the huge float. There is a separate manual for the floral design team and the detail artist assigned to the float.
We will work in approximately eight-hour shifts from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. The working conditions won't exactly be excellent. We'll be in an unheated tent. It has to be cool enough so that the flowers won't wilt. We've been told to wear work clothes, dress in layers, with a cap, gloves and comfortable shoes.
We also have been told to bring rain gear, a first-aid kit and that no smoking, food or drinks are allowed within the work area. Our hotels are over 10 miles away and parking is extremely limited. Other than that, they say we will have a great time. I'm sure we will find a way.
We were issued name badges before leaving New Mexico, which must be worn at all times. Security is very tight. We're not sure whether that's to protect us from something, protect the floats from vandalism, terrorism or industrial sabotage or to insure an efficient and orderly operation. Maybe all the above.
Some New Mexicans will travel to Pasadena in a classic car caravan, leaving from Tucumcari on Dec. 28, stopping for events in Santa Rosa, Moriarty and Laguna Pueblo's Route 66 Casino and spending the night in Acoma. The next night will be in Laughlin, Nevada, then on to Pasadena.
Other New Mexicans will arrive sooner, some as early as Dec. 26, when the decorating starts. Most will not arrive until the 29th or 30th, however. The float builder contracts with local non-profit groups to fill in the gaps during the early days so there will always be about 70 workers on every float.
Fiesta Parade Floats will be building several other floats in the same big tent as New Mexico's float. Reportedly, our float is not nearly the size of some of the entries by big companies. Some floats are said to run about $500,000.
The cost of New Mexico's will be in the $160,000 range. But from all reports, it still will be big enough to be beautiful and stunning.
The flower attaching will end early on the evening of Dec. 31, at which time workers will break for a New Year's Eve party organized in appreciation for all volunteers.
New Mexico's volunteer efforts will all be recorded for posterity by Joe Micalizzi, owner of The Motion Picture, in Burbank.
FRI, 12-30-05

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)



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