Downey's Rose Parade tradition continues in grand style

DOWNEY - The pressure was on as busy hands of all ages plucked, glued, painted, and welded to finish this year's Downey Rose Float Parade entry on time.Assembling the float was delayed because thieves had stripped the Downey Rose Float Association's building of its copper wire earlier this year. The theft prohibited a timely clean up and disassembly of last year's parade entry, so the first pieces of this year's float had to be made offsite. "We didn't start building until the beginning of October," said DRFA Decoration Chairman Jason Redfox. "I actually started making the vases at my parent's house in August." "Broadway's Golden Age" is the theme of this year's Downey entry. Escorts were scheduled to accompany Miss Downey and her court on the float while Downey Mayor Mario Guerra will be found sitting at a grand piano wearing a tuxedo. "I am very excited to be riding on the float this year - it's a lifetime opportunity," Guerra said Giant vases and an elaborate spiral staircase rise above the float, creating a vision of a yesteryear performance as the float pays tribute to Broadway during the 1920's. "This should be one of our better floats," said DRFA President Gary De Remer. "Its floral design and the dresses are beautiful." More than 50 different kinds of roses, orchids and dry materials are in the mix of the thousands of petals and blooms glued to the entry. "We are using a lot more roses than we usually do. The entire base and every arrangement will have roses this year," Redfox said. "It was challenging to make because there are a lot of interesting shapes, dresses, vases, candles, and curly Q's on this float. Wherever there are shapes, it is time consuming because you have to bend the steel." This is Redfox's 29th year working on Downey's Rose Float entry, as well as Kelley Roberts, who serves as construction chairman. A supervisor for ride maintenance at Knotts Berry Farm, Roberts said Downey float volunteers come from all over the local community and even out of state. "We've gotten people as far as Colorado who heard about our float," Roberts said. "This takes a lot of volunteers because we are entirely self-funded and self-built. Our local restaurants even help by donating food." "It costs anywhere from $50,000 to $78,000 for a self-built float. It would cost $200,000 to $400,000 if built by a professional company for the city of Downey." Major sponsors of the DRFA are Supervisor Don Knabe, Financial Partners Credit Union, city of Downey, All American Home Center, Efficient Lighting and Electric, David Buhler, and Dawn McDivitt. Participating in the Rose Float Parade in Pasadena has been a Downey tradition since 1955. ********** Published: January 2, 2009 - Volume 7 - Issue 37