Par­sons vol­un­teer­ing to dec­o­rate a Tour­na­ment of Roses float

The Southwest Booster - - FRONT PAGE - SCOTT AN­DER­SON SOUTH­WEST BOOSTER

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.”

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