Tour the Rose Parade Floats at Post Parade Viewing

Dole's Rhythm of Hawaii

2015 Tournament of Roses float, Dole’s Rhythm of Hawaii

The Rose Parade is an annual tradition in Southern California, and one of the largest well known parades.  The televised portion of the parade route is on the corner of Orange Grove Blvd. and Colorado Blvd., where it makes the corner turn, generally on camera, passes by the close up cameras at the beginning of Colorado Blvd., and then runs most of the way down Colorado for the rest of the dedicated viewers.  You can purchase a ticket for these grandstands in this area for a price, and may find this a convenient option to view the parade in person, as they are guaranteed a good viewing spot without the hassle of camping overnight.  Believe it or not, tickets are already on sale for the 2016 parade!  These Rose Parade floats look glorious on television, and have a long parade route to endure, but many don’t realize all the dedication and hard work it takes to prepare for their 30 seconds of TV fame.

The Loving Process of Creating a Rose Parade Float

Construction for the Rose Parade floats begins in Spring.  Every part of the exterior float must be covered in natural materials, which includes dry materials, and begins being placed as early as summer.  Seeds, husks, bark, etc. are all items that can be placed without it dying, so this is obviously done first.  The live materials are placed generally in the last days of the year. Most all of the floats are built through volunteer work only, through various organizations in the southern California area.  I personally have volunteered time working on floats when I was younger, and highly recommend it if you are able.  Fiesta Parade Floats has been a leader in Rose Parade float building for many years and is a great place to check out if you are interested.  It is a very rewarding experience to be part of creating a beautiful work of art with a team.  Because of the nature of the building experience, very young children are generally not allowed, although older children are ok.  Many girl scout troops are part of the volunteer brigade every year.  This is where I actually first discovered my fear of heights, as I could not walk on the many high scaffoldings that surround the float. There is plenty of work to be done surrounding the base if you also find yourself unable to get onto scaffoldings.

After the Parade You Can Tour the Floats

After the parade, the floats are parked on East Sierra Madre Blvd. and E. Washington Blvd. for around 2 to 3 days.  This enables people to see the floats up close and admire all that hard work up close.  Tickets are purchased online or at the gate.  For more information, you can visit the official Tournament of Roses site to learn more.   They are gated off and require ticket entry, and you must arrive at least a few hours before closing for admittance (and for enough time to see everything).

Tournament of Roses volunteer, or "white suiter", at the City of Downey float, Home for the Holidays

Tournament of Roses volunteer, or “white suiter”, at the City of Downey float, Home for the Holidays

“White suiters” will be there to answer any questions and give great information about the float, or the sponsoring organization.  These people are also volunteers.  Food vendors will be inside, however they can be pretty pricey.  Most likely you will be able to find an ice cream vendor pushing his cart on the other side of the fence.  If you don’t mind doing a deal through a chain link fence, this will be a lot cheaper.  There are also a couple of free water sites throughout the area.  Shuttle services are available, but if you choose to drive, just be aware that street parking can be difficult to find and you many have to walk a bit.  Many residents of the area offer up their front lawns and driveways for around $10 to $15.   This was my parking of choice during the 2015 visit, and worked great for me, however I do not recommend giving anybody your keys.  This is a fun experience, prepare to be amazed at the intricate details and enjoy a great family experience that only happens once a year.  Perhaps it will inspire you to volunteer on a float for the next year’s parade!

Rose Parade float

City of Hope’s float sits beautifully against the backdrop of the San Gabriel Mountains.

Trader Joe's

Garden gnome on Trader Joe’s Bedtime Stories float

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