Inside the Capitol

Sunday, December 16, 2007

12-26 New Mexicans Scatter to Pasadena and Iowa


Syndicated Columnist

      SANTA FE -- Over 100 New Mexicans from throughout the state will be descending on Pasadena, California in the days following Christmas to put the finishing touches on the state of New Mexico's 2008 Rose Parade entry.

      The float was designed early in the year and built over the past several months. It's space alien theme has been controversial, but calls during the past month to change the theme went nowhere because it was already built. Rose Parade floats are a year round business.

      Despite suggestions that the theme is silly or will scare people, the spirit among New Mexicans headed to Pasadena is high. Two years ago, we worked among frivolous floats that won prizes. And several of us in this group are veterans of Roswell UFO parades in which we won prizes.

      This float won't be like those in our local parades here in New Mexico. Rose Parade floats are professional -- no napkins, no cardboard, no paint. The superstructure has been built. We will be adding tens of thousands of flowers, along with bark, seeds and leaves that will cover the entire surface of the float. We understand the color on the little green men will come from split peas.

   We are told that the number of flowers on a float exceeds the amount that an average American florist will sell in five years. The roses will be placed in individual vials of water and set into the float one by one on the final day.

      The builder provides two supervisors and 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 and a first-aid kit. No smoking, food or drinks are allowed within the work area. We were issued name badges before leaving New Mexico, which must be worn at all times. Security is very tight to protect against industrial sabotage and to insure an efficient and orderly operation.

   Some New Mexicans will arrive as early as Dec. 26, when the decorating starts, but most will not arrive until the 28th or 29th.

   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. That wasn't necessary on the New Mexico float last time. We were always ahead of schedule.

   New Mexico's contractor, Fiesta Parade Floats, will be building several other floats in the same big tent as our state's float. Our float will not nearly be the size of some of the entries by big companies. Some of those run around $500,000.

   The cost of New Mexico's will be close to $200,000 but I understand some of that is for other related Tourism Department promotions in the area.

   Paid tours are conducted full time around the inside of the outer walls of our tent. Many of our group enjoy chatting with the viewers and promoting our state.

   The flower attaching will end early on the evening of Dec. 30, at which time workers will break for a New Year's Eve party organized in appreciation for all volunteers.

   These New Mexicans won't be the only ones busy during the Christmas break. Gov. Bill Richardson is asking for campaign assistance in Iowa at the same time.

   At least we'll be warmer.

WED, 12-26-07


JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505

(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)



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