Whether it was asking the produce manager to remove all the white onions from the bin so she could pick out the discarded skins or driving up to Morro Bay to harvest fresh white and purple kelp, Deco Team chair Linda Cozakos dug up botanicals for the Burbank Tournament of Roses Association (BTORA) 2013 Rose Parade float that created unique combinations and perhaps first-time uses for materials she found lying around.
Self-built Rose Parade floats, such as “Deep Sea Adventure” by BTORA, are a labor of love by volunteers who work year-round to design, build, flower, and promote the float. They can also be expensive, so in addition to raising funds, association members look for creative ways to do a lot with a little. Cozakos is a past master, and she enthusiastically shared her expertise with us.
“Every time I’m the decorating chair, I introduce something new and different, something unique,” she told us at the annual BTORA float deconstruction party and barbecue last Saturday. “I used a whole lot of stuff from the City of Burbank to make it unique.”
This kind of enthusiasm and attention to detail on BTORA’s part won “Deep Sea Adventures” the Fantasy Trophy for “most outstanding display of fantasy and imagination” in the 2013 Rose Parade.
For example, the shells of the turtles were created with jacaranda pods dropped from the ubiquitous purple-flowered trees that line the streets of Burbank and other Southern California cities. “I’ve never seen anyone use jacaranda pods” on a Rose Parade float, Cozakos said.
Crape myrtle, another popular tree in So Cal cities, provided flowers and pods, Australian flame tree flowers were used for the lobster shell, and agapanthus, blue pansies, Gold Medallion tree flowers, acorn cups from eucalyptus trees to stud the treasure chest were gathered from around Burbank. Star pine needles for the base of the turtles came from the city and from Cozakos’ parents’ home.
Bobby the Blowfish, whose animated belly turned to expand and contract like the real thing, was created with found kelp, sago palm spikes and scabiosa pods glued on one-by-one.
The work of a deco committee is what the Rose Parade viewer sees going down Colorado Blvd. on Jan. 1. The deco committee decides on color, materials, quantity, and purchasing, and is responsible for making sure there are enough botanicals without a lot of waste. It also has to strive for originality and creative use of materials to win an award and create a stunning float.
The BTORA deco committee had five people, all new to that committee, for 2013. Cozakos held brainstorming sessions and asked each member to bring in something “new and interesting.” Several of the materials ended up on the float.
Floral choices are illustrated in the slideshow attached to this article.
Cozakos has a loose-leaf binder, called the “deco book,” that tracks materials, placement and quantities. She showed us what could be called a paste-by-numbers line drawing for the sub that indicated 103 separate botanical items to be glued on the piece.
Not everything can be found on the street, of course, and must be purchased in mass quantities. To create the sand and the sand castle at the back of “Deep Sea Adventures,” Cozakos ordered 450 lbs. of steel-cut oats, which had to be crushed and the sifted to get rid of the powder.
The reins of the seahorses were wrapped with twisted raffia to look like ropes at the correct scale, and pistachios for barnacles, pomegranates to jewel the crown on the octopus, and mushrooms for shells and suckers on the tentacles were among the items purchased.
Pomegranates were difficult to find, Cozakos said, at the time of year she needed them, and she needed a dozen huge ones. She found them at Costco. “I went through all the boxes to find the perfect roundness and size,” she said.
Roses, of course—and to raise money, BTORA, like many float sponsors, sold roses in vials for $1 each. A row of drying roses was waiting for the buyers to pick them up for keepsakes.
The barnacles came about when Cozakos’ 24-year-old son suggested the idea. She said that would be fine if he could come up with what to use to create them. Pistachios were the perfect choice, and selling the clusters provided another way to bring in a few bucks.
Reusing materials is another way to help meet the cost of entering a Rose Parade float. Rose Petals are sorted according to color, dried on racks, and crushed to be stored for possible use the following year. Stacks and stacks of Red Freedom petals will become purple flakes for flat decorating work.
Creativity is not just in the choice of materials, but in how they are put together. For example, portabella mushrooms alone would have made suitable suckers, but insetting them with dried lotus pods added pop to the design.
The design itself is tweaked as it goes along. The original drawing showed crabs building a sand castle using a hammer and a saw. Cozakos pointed out that the saw was changed to a sawfish and the hammer to a hammerhead shark.
To find out more about how a float is deconstructed and materials reused, read “Burbank wins 2013 Rose Parade Fantasy Trophy with ‘Deep Sea Adventures’”
Note: Self-built float associations rely on donations and fundraisers to pay for their entries and volunteers to put them together. The six self-built floats are Burbank, Cal Poly, Downey, La Canada Flintridge, Madre, and South Pasadena. Follow the links to see how you might become involved.
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