Thursday, June 4, 2015

Rose Festival Parade Floats

Our homeschool group had a tour of SCI 3.2, the company that creates most of the floats for the Rose Festival Grand Floral Parade.  It was really neat!  The floats are almost ready, and in the next two days they will be covering them with flowers.  All surfaces must be covered with "organic material", including seeds, coconut, raw cotton, raffia, beans, and just about anything you can imagine.  Colors are created sometimes with natural dyes as well.  The floats are trailored to the beginning of the parade, but all must be self-propelled for the parade itself.  All have individual sponsors that pay between $30,000- $70,000 for the fabrication, which does not cover the labor to decorate them. They feel it's money well spent because of the tremendous positive exposure this gives them. Companies encourage their employees to volunteer for the decorating. But anyone age 14 and older is also welcome to volunteer.  Last year we had a tour during the fabrication process. This year for the first time we got to meet their man in charge of the flowers.   They normally source as many flowers as possible from local growers, but this year the spring bloom season was ahead of schedule by about two weeks.  So decisions had to be made about whether the budgets for various floats would permit sourcing from a greater distance, or if substitutions would have to be made, which was a serious challenge.  He has to do the complicated math of determining how many flowers will be needed to cover any given float.  Much of the substrates of the floats are foam insulation, so flowers can be poked right in. Many of the flowers are first put in little plastic vials filled with water that have spikes on the bottom, so volunteers have to first fill every teensy vial with water and insert the flowers.  Whew! Their results are always stunning and it's clear this year will be no exception.

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