Sporting an iconic yellow submarine pulled by a team of bright seahorses, with a giant purple octopus tour guide directing the action, “Deep Sea Adventures” by the Burbank Tournament of Roses Association (BTORA) came home with the Fantasy Trophy for “most outstanding display of fantasy and imagination” in the 2013 Rose Parade.
We were present at the Rose Parade to see the swimming seahorses bob up and down, the eye on the enormous periscope blink open and shut, busy crabs building a sand castle at the rear of the float, and bubbles that added to the undersea ambience. We also had the privilege of being on hand Saturday, Jan. 12 to witness the deconstruct, the process of tearing a float down to the chassis.
At the Burbank float barn, it’s a huge party, complete with refreshments, lunch, and coins hidden in the foam covering for the kids to find.
Steve Edward, Vice President—Float of BTPORA, explained. About 20 years ago, he and another BTORA member were in the barn, still working on tearing the float apart in March, when they realized the process could be a lot faster and more fun.
“We decided to advertise a party and serve lunch. Pick a day and get it all done,” Edward said. That decision created the annual float deconstruction and barbecue event in January of each year. “I always say, ‘What better way to see how a float is built than to deconstruct it.’”
Now the float is dismantled, materials are divided to reuse, recycle, mulch, or discard, and the buckets and vials washed and disinfected, all in one day.
With design concepts due to the Tournament of Roses in February and an all-volunteer crew, it’s important to be ready to start work on the float for the following year as soon as possible. As self-builders, BTORA and other float committees open design contests to the public. Find out how at “Design a Rose Parade float for the 2014 parade.”
BTORA, like the City of Burbank which it represents in the Rose Parade, is serious about environmental concerns. Even the float barn on the Burbank Water and Power lot has been designated a Burbank Showcase Building for its energy efficiency.
“I’m very excited about this building,” he said, pointing out the skylights that provide enough sunlight on most days that the electrical lights do not need to be turned on. It has tankless water heaters, push-button toilets, and a soda machine with a smart motion sensor that powers down when no one is about. The lighting is scheduled to be upgraded soon as well.
The float itself is also environmentally friendly. It is one of the few Rose Parade floats that runs on propane (the others are also self-built). Steel that can be reused is stored away, and the scrap is sold to recyclers to raise funds. The city mulches and composts the botanical material. Many of the decorations were collected around the city for use on the float.
The float association builds two floats a year, one for the Rose Parade and a smaller one for Burbank on Parade in April. “A lot of components are tucked away and reused in Burbank on Parade,” Edward said.
“The City of Burbank is very big in conservation. So is BTORA. It’s the right thing to do.”
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 Flintrige, Sierra Madre,and South Pasadena. Follow the links to see how you might become involved.
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