"Dreams Come True" Rose Bowl Parade New Year 2014


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January 10th 2014
Published: January 13th 2014
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Fantasy Rose Bowl Tour
"Dreams Come True" was the theme of the 125th Rose Parade 2014, and that is exactly what happened to me. A childhood dream of mine was to attend the Rose Bowl Parade. A real "Life Lister". My Mom and I would eat our breakfast in front of the tv every new year morning amazed at the floats, even on our old black and white tv just imagining what they looked like in real life. So when Pat and I saw that Fantasy, the same tour company we went to Alaska with, had a five day Rose Parade Tour we booked it last Spring.

The 28th of January we drove the 40 miles between Orange and Arcadia to the Santa Anita Horse Race Park. We pulled into the parking lot at Gate 6 to join 130 other RVs and trailers. This was the first time staying in a parking lot, so there was some prep involved and a different mind set regarding electricity and water usage. We filled the fresh water tank and emptied the grey and black tanks knowing a "Honey Wagon" would be coming by mid stay to empty the tanks and get fresh water if we needed a
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RV's in the Santa Anita Race Track parking lot
little extra. We received our electricity from a generator, electric lines ran throughout the entire area between all of the coaches and trailers. Normally we have 50 amps at an RV park, but here we only received 30 amps from the generator. That meant we needed to keep track of the amp display in the RV and using a list Pat put up displaying how much each item pulls in amps, i.e. the toaster is 10 amps and the coffee pot is 12. If the output goes over 30 in any RV it not only trips your own electricity it could affect your neighbors as well. One of the things we like about Fantasy Tours they have been doing these tours for so long they actually know that peak amp pull is at 6:40am. They provided most of the meals, and had all the tours and activities planed with bus transportation to each.

Sunday we went to the City of Sierra Madre float barn. They are one of very few floats in the parade that still work from donations and all volunteers. They have had a float in the parade from the beginning except during WWI. We took a
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The lines running from the generator to each coach for electricity
tour seeing the stages of decorations for their float. Then we went out and helped prepare the 10,000 roses they would be using for their float. We organized into 5 tables of 8 people working in assembly line fashion. The first 3 people would carefully unroll a dozen and a half long stem roses and with a 3" piece of split PVC pipe they would cut each stem on a slant. Handing it off to the next four people who had a floral tube filled with water ready to put the rose in within 10 seconds. They also pulled the guard petals and made sure the calyx came out over the opening. It was then hand off to one man who did quality control and carefully laid them in a tray making sure each bud did not overlap. We got to work about 2 hours preparing over 1,000 roses, all of us agreed we could have stayed longer. The city volunteers would be staying around the clock until the parade.

We went back to the park and got ready for an afternoon at the horse races and lunch in the Santa Anita Park's Club Court Restaurant in the Club
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The generator for 130 RV's
House. We had a delicious lunch overlooking the race track or viewing the races on a tv at the table. Our RVs could be seen in the background. The grass track started about 50 yards away from where we were parked. We played a few races and broke even.

That night we went to dinner at the San Antonio Winery in Los Angeles. It was started in 1917 and is still run by the 4th generation of the Riboli family. We were surprised how many of their wines we were familiar with including Stella Rosa. The tour guide told us that they stayed afloat during prohibition by making Altar wine for the local church which still exists today.

The 30th was another busy day starting out with a trip to the Rose Bowl Festival Grounds to view other major float barns decorating their floats. A few that we saw were Honda, EHarmony, and Cal Poly. We also got to see the antique cars being decorated by FTD florists. It is amazing to hear that all the floats are actually covered in all natural items that were alive or had been dried, or were edible. No artificial dyes are
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Sunset over the campsite in the shadow of the Race Track
allowed. But, to witness the actual work is awesome. We watched as the workers sat on scaffolds using beans like kidney, lentils and split pea, fruits like blueberries and cranberries, and leaves one of which was the silver leaf about 3 inches long and 1 inch wide glued one by one. The leaves were used for such parts as a thatched roof so they were overlaid and not end to end, therefore, taking twice as many leaves to completely cover the area.

There was a band fest after lunch, but we took a break from that tour. We were entertained by a great live oldies band that night for dinner.

New Years Eve started out with the "Dumping of the rigs" by the "Honey Wagon". After lunch we went to the Huntington Library & Outdoor Gardens tour. We had never heard of this place and were simply amazed. It was the estate of Henry Edward Huntington and his wife Arabella built around 1911. The Art gallery is in the 55,000 square ft. residence housing Blue Boy, and Pinkie, to name a couple. Henry also built a tremendous library on the estate that houses the Ellesmere manuscript of Chaucer's
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The cook and dining tent
Canterbury Tales, and a Gutenberg Bible on vellum. There are more than a dozen gardens cover 120 acres of the 207 acre grounds. There were a Rose, Japanese, Chinese and a Palm garden to name a few. The tour was a great overview of the estate, but we know we will have to go back several times to take it all in.

That night we had a great dinner and were entertained by the Crown City Dixieland Band. They held a crazy hat contest, and asked Renee' to lead the judging. Renee' brought us all hats to wear, I wore a vintage hat from Sandy, Pat wore Will's hat from when he played Norman. Will's hat was from his Jeckel and Hyde days in New York. We celebrated the East Coast New Year time and headed to bed. An early and exciting day was ahead of us in the morning.

January 1, 2014 we boarded the busses at 6am coffee and breakfast bars in hand. We drove the short drive to Pasadena though tremendous traffic, parked behind the Parsons building and walked a few blocks to the stands. They were awesome seats and once the parade started I
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Campfire outside the dining tent
was so excited I stood at the top of the bleachers for the two hours as each float and every band went by. It was truly as thrilling as I had expected, especially seeing the float we worked on. They won the Mayor's Award for most-outstanding city entry.

We had lunch back at the camp grounds then we went to view the floats up close where they had been parked. Words cannot describe.

We went out to dinner that night with Will and Renee and left the park grounds on the 2nd headed to Temecula.


Additional photos below
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Starting gate stored by the dog walk
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The drawing for the City of Sierra Madre 2014 float Catching the Big One. The plans for these floats start in March.
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Sierra Madre float barn
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View of the float in progress from the catwalk
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Catching the Big One
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The float has to be able to tilt so it can be removed from the decorating barn
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Our assembly line processed over 1,000 roses of three different colors
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Pat at work
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The floral tube each rose was placed in
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Bernadette's total concentration
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One tray of yellow roses ready
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The Santa Anita Race track
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View of the races from our table in the Club House at lunch. Note the view of the RV's in the distance.


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