Friday, August 25, 2006

This week's homework: Where you live

For this week's homework, JLester961 asks, via Scalzi:

What is the most interesting thing about where you live? "Thing" in this case would be a famous landmark, a famous current celebrity or historical personage from your home town or county, a notable celebration or sports event -- basically, anything that makes where you're from interesting an unique.

That one is something of a no-brainer.  I live in Pasadena.  Known for the Rose Bowl game, the Tournament of Roses Parade, and home to certain Little Old Ladies.

Despite living in Pasadena for nearly 15 years, I've only attended the Rose Parade once.  And once, when I was a kid (before I even lived in Pasadena), I helped decorate the floats.

I went with a friend of mine whose local church group volunteered to help decorate a float.  (The float wasn't sponsored by the church or anything -- it was sponsored by a corporation.  I think Rand McNally, but I'm not positive.  It was a long time ago.)

The float in question had Big Bird on it, and a bunch of school supplies.  When I arrived at the float decorating tent, I was assigned to work on a giant pencil-holder cup.  It stood unobstrusively in the center of the float.  The float driver, actually, looked out of it.  It was brown in color.  This meant it had to be covered in lentils.  We just painted glue on the frame, and took handfuls of lentils and spread them on.

Some hours later, having proven my worth with lentil-spreading, I graduated to the Most Important Part of the Float -- the name of the corporate sponsor across the back.  The name was spelled out in carved letters, and we had to make the letters white.  (Someone had already used black seeds of some sort around the edging of the letters, so they'd be more visible.)  To make the letters white required carnation petals.  And you couldn't just spread those puppies on like the lentils.  They had to be applied one petal at a time.

We each were given a lid to a cardboard box, which was flipped over like a tray.  On our tray was placed row after row of carnation petals.  (I don't know who was shredding carnations for this -- it must have been going on at the other end of the tent.)  I had a bottle of glue.  My job was to put a dab of glue on each and every petal, and then hand them off to someone for application to the float.  (Then we'd switch off.)

I did a small amount of work putting feathers on Big Bird, but that required climbing the scaffolding and it was then that I learned that, while I don't have a problem with heights, I don't really like unstable heights very much.  I came down and worked on the giant paint set.

(The paint set was a problem.  It had been designed to have five little pots of paint in it, each a different color, which would just be made by filling it with a different shade of roses.  Well, it turns out the float building guy put six pots in it rather than five, and we only had five different colors of roses.  So we came up with all sorts of ideas of what to jam in that sixth pot.  I vaguely remember someone deciding on these teensy little purple flowers -- which we painstakingly beheaded and then delicately glued in place.  And the guy in charge of the Float Building Operation didn't like it, so we had to tear it all out and then put in some other long-stemmed flower.)

At the end of the day -- actually, it's the beginning of the next day -- To this day, the only all-nighter I ever pulled was working on the Rose Parade floats -- anyway, when it's the next morning and you're all loopy from exhaustion, whoever is still standing gets to do the very best part of float decorating:  the pools of roses all along the bottom of the float.  There's no design there -- it's just free-form rose-pooling.  They give everyone a bucket of roses -- each rose has already been inserted into its very own little tube with water in it (so it'll keep).  The tube is also pointy at the end, so it jams into the float surface real easily.  So you take your bucket, start at the bottom of Big Bird, and just start planting your color of roses in a nice pretty pool leading out to the edge of the float (because no surface can be un-decorated).  They have everyone do this on the left-hand side of the float first, then (when the guy in charge has commented on your work and he thinks you're up to it), you get to move on the right-hand side (a.k.a. the Television Side) of the float.

When we were all done, we got to take home one of the roses in its little container tube.  Actually, I'm not sure "got" is the right word.  It was more of a group theft sort of thing, where the people in charge just looked the other way.  (I think the woman who walked out of there with three long-stemmed orchids under her jacket might have been pushing things, but she said they wouldn't mind.)

By the time I got home, I ate breakfast and went right to bed.  Didn't watch the parade on TV -- was way too pooped.  But we had my little rose-parade rose in the center of our kitchen table to usher in the New Year.


jamie24601 said...

wow!  what a cool memory!  thanks for sharing.  :o)  I absolutely LOVE to rose parade.


pixiedustnme said...

Being a University of Michigan fan, the Rose parade is about the only thing I remember fondly!  -Kelly