Remember when I said we were going to start this process from the ground up? And that you’d find out what I meant later? Well, later is now. In this segment, I wanted to show you the two biggest components of the float in their beginning stages. What might those two components be? Yep, that would be the flowers (thank you Captain Obvious) and the structure of the float itself.
If you follow our blog, you probably remember seeing a post or two (or five) about my recent trip to Colombia, and more specifically, a farm tour of Liberty Blooms. While we were at Liberty Blooms (also our hosts during our stay in Medellín), we were able to get a sneak peek at the flowers they were growing for us specifically for the Rose Parade. My aunt Pam, AKA our Director of Purchasing, is in charge of all the Rose Parade activity, so it was pretty cool for her to get to see her order in the ground.
The timeline for the beginning phases of the floats goes something like this:
On Phoenix Decorating Company’s end, once the sketch of the desired float is approved, they start working on the materials that will be used to decorate it, whether it be flowers, seeds, grains, vegetables, etc. They then submit the first flower order. Once the float starts to take shape, Phoenix will get a clearer idea of the areas that need to be covered and re-calculate the numbers. Phoenix Decorating Company has a mathematical formula for the products they use and what coverage they get out of each one of them. As the float continues to progress the calculations for materials are re-checked.
On our end, we work to make sure they will get all the materials they need in time. Our Purchasing Department starts working on the order with our farms around mid-June (see, this is a long process folks!) to ensure that we will have all the colors we need, as nobody else wants anything but red and white during December… Merry Christmas y’all!
We always start with pom pons first, which is what we get from Liberty Blooms. These have to be programmed for us because we use so many fall type colors that if we didn’t have them grown specifically for the parade, we wouldn’t be able to find them. Poms usually take about thirteen weeks to grow once they are planted.
Next up is carnations, whose growing cycle takes about 28 weeks, and following that is the rest of the bulk items. During the growing processes, we constantly monitor the crops to make sure they will be on time. By the time our trip rolled around in late October, our poms were small but well on their way!
Rose Parade poms in late October
And here are some photos we just received about a week ago (first week of December).
Quite a bit taller with just a few more weeks to go…
And now for the float! The following images show the skeletal structure of the float before any dry material goes on. It all starts with the initial concept and sketch, and from there they start building the bones and mechanics.
Skeleton structure of Western Asset’s float, “Let Your Imagination Run Wild!”
Photo credit: Matt Lirag – Western Asset
Once the structure is complete, the float is painted to act as a guide for all of the dry material and flowers that will later be put on, kind of like a “paint by numbers.” Last weekend they began with the fresh dry decór, like seeds and grains, and fresh flowers won’t go on until a few days before the parade!
Hope you enjoyed learning about the early stages and planning that goes into these beauties! Keep following the journeys of the float and our flowers in the upcoming weeks – can you believe we’re only two weeks from Christmas, and three from the Rose Parade?!