Pasadena's annual after-parade float festival is a pleaser

When the Rose Parade ends, another begins. The last stretch of the Tournament of Roses parade takes the floats from Colorado Boulevard onto Sierra Madre Blvd. where they park and become a show all unto themselves.

It's a chance for all of us to get a close look at these floats the volunteers worked so hard to make. All those flowers and seeds were meticulously glued by hand onto each float. There were 45 floats in the parade this year, and lots of eyeballs and brains trying to figure out the ingredients used to make them look as they do.

Alice Paxton came out from the San Fernando Valley with her God-daughter. As we were looking at a float with a tractor on it made largely of chili flakes, I asked her was was the material on the tires making them so black. She struggled and struggled. "Poppy seeds? Wheat?" None of those. It was black pepper. That's what makes this viewing party so much fun.

Roses are the number one flower most used on these floats according to float makers. Carnations are second. Orchids are third. Sharon Wolf has always wanted to see the parade and float festival. "It was on the bucket list," she told me.

Is it everything she had hoped for? "Yes," she said, "and more!"

As we walked along the floats we spotted the one that caught fire in the parade. Steve Guggan, a driver with a great big tow truck from Jan's Towing, got it here from the parade route. We didn't see any obvious signs of the problem, though he pointed out where it was. It's not the first time he's had to do that. He says it's happened several times. When we asked him why he responded, "Either a motor failure, or a battery went bad, an alternator went bad. Something like that." What happened to the Chinese Heritage Float is under investigation.

Then there's the Animation Trophy winner from the City of Burbank. It has some 11,000 roses along with carnations and mums. The shack on the float is covered with melaluca bark from Burbank. The wolf is made from silver buffalo grass and, hand-spun cotton strings make up the guitar.
All of the animals on the float move as they play various instruments.

Each year Burbank has a float contest. If you want to take a shot at entering a design for next year's float just go to for more information.