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Public Storage wows 125th Rose Parade with ground, er, space-breaking float

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We were sworn to secrecy. In an interview with Paradiso Parade Floats owner Charles Meier in October, your Tournament of Roses Examiner was let in on what can only be called one of the most stupendous secrets in Rose Parade history: The Public Storage float, “Adventures in Space,” would be the first double-decker float and the first put together with independently functioning pieces ever to make its way down Colorado Blvd. in Pasadena.

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Viewers on the street were utterly agog on Jan. 1 when the huge rocket ship with a crew of three aliens began to open amid clouds of steam. What seemed to be a whimsical creation with a minimum of animation—turning heads, rotating wheels, steam jets—revealed something no one had ever seen on the boulevard before. A ramp descended from the nose, the three rolled out in separate floats, each with its own driver, wheeled around the street and by the crowd, and piloted themselves back up a ramp through the tail. Even the veteran crew at KTLA seemed surprised.

The float won the Grand Marshal’s trophy for Excellence in Creative Concept and Design. The attached slideshow should be viewed like a flipbook: in order, one after the other. Note the stages as the rocket slowly lifts and the ramps come out. An amateur video captured the moment, and the reaction of the cameraman reflects that of the entire crowd.

Though all float designs are approved by the Tournament of Roses, Meier had to get special permission for this float, because it required stopping the parade for 90 seconds to run the drill. When we spoke with him, he was not sure if they would allow it to be done twice—once for the cameras on the corner of Orange Grove and Colorado, and a second time in front of the cameras on Colorado. Fortunately for viewers, the two-peat was approved.

The title, “Adventures in Space,” was touted to be a pun on Public Storage’s business, a humorous take on the containers they rent for people who don’t have enough space. It also ended up being a comment on how the space on the float was used, and the space-age technology that was required to pull it off. Meier has been designing floats since he was a child, and he came up with this design as a high schooler. Since Public Storage wanted a fun, not a hard-sell float, it was a perfect fit.

Flowering included 35,000 individually applied lime green button chrysanthemums for the aliens' glowing green faces; Miracle, Voodoo, Hot Lady, Topaz, High and Magic, Super Green and Cool Water roses; and more than 50,000 carnations in neon hues on the spacecraft. Green apples, oranges, limes, red cabbage, Bells of Ireland, cattleya orchids, liatris and Midori anthurium added accents. The inside of the rocket had to be covered with botanical material as well, because once the aliens descended, it was a float of its own. In total, more than 10,000 square feet had to be covered with vegetation.

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