Juliette Funes, Staff Writer
Posted: 12/30/2010 02:49:50 PM PST
week is what volunteers who work on the iconic Pasadena
Tournament of Roses Parade floats affectionately refer
to as Hell Week.
the last few days of December when thousands of participants
pack the Rose Bowl and surrounding venues to adorn
and garnish dozens of themed floats with floral regalia
for hours on end.
story is no different for the 7,000 San Gabriel Valley
Kiwanis Club members, who, since Dec. 26, have been
working 11 to 15 hours a day decorating the international
club's entry, called "Children's Dreams."
in a sense, call it our hell week," said Dave
Wallach, district chairman of the Kiwanis Rose Float
Project and member of the Hacienda Heights Kiwanis
Club. "It's total mayhem, but a lot of excitement
and a lot of fun. As it's closing into the last few
days and everybody is seeing the floats come alive,
everyone is eager to see them completed."
16-foot-tall, 35-foot-long float will be blooming
with an array of colorful flowers, roses and orchids
to encompass a magical land with toadstool houses
and bigger-than-life dandelions and birds.
a beautiful hummingbird on there and dragonfly,"
Wallach said. "It's whimsical, storybook and
has remnants of Alice in Wonderland."
and local members from the clubs for Arcadia, South
Hills-Covina, West Covina, La Puente Industry and
Walnut Valley - which serves Diamond Bar, Walnut and
Rowland Heights - will decorate until New Year's Eve
at the Rosemont Pavilion in Pasadena.
Kiwanis' whole goal is to give back to the youth and
disadvantaged," Wallach said.
before the float and its 16 riders can be the seventh
in line to ride down Colorado Boulevard, workers have
to prepare for the grueling work.
a prelude, hundreds of volunteers began applying "dry"
decorations during the first three Saturdays of the
and plants, like seeds, strawflower and walnut shell,
"We get seeds and beans of all sizes and colors,
and you'll see nuts and pistachios and corn nuts,
seaweed and all types of things like that," Wallach
said. "Plus they're taking statice, minute flowers,
and putting them in blenders to be applied to the
floats because every inch of those floats have to
be covered by something live."
the biggest helping hand are local students from the
Key (high schools), Builders (middle schools), K-Kids
(elementary schools) and Aktion (developmentally disabled)
of agile Key Club students from Wilson, Los Altos,
Diamond Bar, Workman, San Dimas and Bonita high schools
work hours-long shifts, helping
"Our kids help decorate 10 to 14 floats each
year and donate hundreds of hours to make the Rose
Parade the greatest parade each year," said Bert
Brandt, secretary for the Walnut Valley club.
the past four years, Jessica Polidano, the advisor
of the Key Club at Nogales High School, has taken
about a dozen students to work on the dry cutting
and floral decorating phases on the Kiwanis float.
students really enjoy the process of being a part
of it and seeing how everything is created. Before
they've gone when they've had to put together the
roses and put the finishing touches on the float,"
said Polidano, an English teacher. "This year
they got to see the beginning process and have been
able to see it from beginning to end."
they have the liberty to choose each year the service
activities they want to participate in, helping out
on the Rose float is a steady favorite, she said.
have "told me that they go with their families
or if they know the Kiwanis is leading it, they'll
go up with them and volunteer," Polidano said.
organization needs the most help this week - crunch
1,000 volunteers a day have been spending their days
and nights working on the floral arrangements, placing
fresh flowers in the right places and getting everything
ready for the big day on Jan. 1.
wouldn't be fun if it wasn't stressful," said
Wallach, who will invest 186 hours on this project.
"I get to be behind the scenes. There's so much
more excitement going on at that point."
Tuesday, Dec. 28, members, with the help of Casa Blanca
restaurant in Hacienda Heights, put on a huge dinner
for all the volunteers.
K Club members, including those from Mt. San Antonio
College, will work a 24-hour shift from Dec. 30 to
Dec. 31 to put the final touches on the float in time
have all these floats in full regalia and the judges
will see these floats and we'll hear the music that
will be on the floats," Wallach said. "They
can see everything in full bloom."
is the moment Wallach relishes, especially since he
hasn't seen the Rose Parade live in eight years.
am responsible for getting the riders on the float
at 4 in the morning and getting them ready to leave
when it's over," he said. "I go home and
watch it on TV later."
the heavy work load, it's a labor of love.
feel pride just knowing that we played a part in the
success of that float," Wallach said. "I
wear a `K' on my heart. It's self-pride knowing that
we got it taken care of and it was successful."