Parsons volunteering to decorate a Tournament of Roses float
Swift Current’s Poppy Parsons will spend the final days of 2018 helping decorate a float for the iconic Tournament of Roses Parade.
The owner of Smart Flowers is volunteering her time to serve as part of a three florist team guiding volunteers from the City of Torrance in putting their float together. The parade entry is one of 13 floats being built simultaneously by Fiesta Floats in a huge 70,000 square foot refrigerated warehouse in the week before the January 1 parade.
“They said I’m going to be awestruck, I’m going to be blown away. And I know I will be absolutely blown away,” Parsons admitted while talking about her year end trip to California.
She noted that members of the Torrance Rose Float Association have been meeting for an entire year to prepare their float for this year’s theme The Melody of Life. They have a float theme designed by a floral designer they have worked with before, and have utilized personnel to build the frame and technical aspects of the float. Parsons will be leading the volunteer crew involved with decorating the float.
“We’re applying all kinds of flowers, pedals, seeds, grains, all kinds of things to decorate the float. So I might be gluing, I might be inserting flowers into water tubes, floral foam. Doing all kinds of aspects of the full decoration.”
She said the layering of the design involves materials such as sesame seeds, poppy seeds, peas, beans and lentils, to floral products like spider mums, orchids, and of course over 5,000 roses.
“The focus is definitely on the roses. But you get the combination of texture and colour. They need all kinds of things. Every inch is organic, natural product. So to get enough shade and quality and colour and texture, they use everything. Anything you can imagine that’s real and organic, and if they need that colour, that’s what they’re going to use.”
She noted that she will be in a facility where Company Fiesta Floats is building 13 floats this year, and their work space is housed in a huge 70,000 square food refrigerated warehouse. There will be literally semi trucks full of roses for their volunteer work.
“When we come, they have 10 semis of trucks of flowers and we start decorating with the live product for those four days.”
She has also been made aware of the magnitude of the volunteer effort surrounding the Tournament of Roses Parade, as around 1,000 people volunteers contribute an estimated 80,000 hours of volunteer time to decorate the floats, and the January 1 parade utilizes 950 volunteers along the parade route to do various jobs.
Parsons said she inquired how she could volunteer while attending an American Institute of Floral Designers (AIFD) Symposium back in 2017. She was able to qualify as a florist team leader because of her work at various AIFD events over the years.
“Just because I volunteer every year with my floral family at Symposium, they know I work. They know I can wash buckets, or cut flowers or design from the ground up.”
She admits it will be exciting to go to an event where she can share her passion for flowers and working with her fellow AIFD members.
“It’s connecting with like minded people. We’re a family. We call ourselves ‘floral friends’ and ‘floral family’. We have an instant connection with people that love the same things you do.”
“And just seeing it live. After this many years of watching it, and being part of a huge tradition,” she said. “Just to give my part back to a huge new year’s tradition.
“But really, connecting with friends and learning something new and seeing something different. It keeps my passion. It keeps me engaged and excited about being a florist.”
The Rose Parade rolls through the streets of Pasadena, California on January 1, hours before the Rose Bowl game between the Ohio State Buckeyes and Washington Huskies. The 130th Rose Parade will feature a total of 40 floats, 21 marching bands, and 18 equestrian units.
In appreciation for her days of volunteer work, she will receive a grandstand seat where she will have an ideal viewing spot to enjoy the parade.
“Its exciting. How do you not love a parade.”
“I talk to lots of people and it’s just a tradition, whether they’re into flowers or not. Watching a parade makes you feel like a kid again. Going to our parade in Swift Current, it’s tradition. You go and watch the parade and you feel connection to the community. You see those businesses that are giving back and giving you something to enjoy.”
Parsons will also be taking a bit of Saskatchewan with her when she is in California. She will be wearing a different Saskatchewan made t-shirt each day, sharing designs from Hardpressed, Tall Grass Apparel, Farm Life, and Prairie Soul. She intends to wear her Swift Current Broncos shirt on New Year’s Eve, and a Roughriders jersey on New Year’s Day.
“It’s always super exciting to go to these places, and people ask where you’re from, and I get to say I’m from Swift Current, Saskatchewan, Canada. My name is Poppy. I stand out.”
“It’s always great to talk about Saskatchewan while I’m at these events. And this one is going to be lots of interactive time with a lot of people from California and the surrounding states. And so it’ll be a great time to make some new connections.”
“I just think it’s going to be a great time to make some new friends, and, you know, play with flowers.”