test drive of the public storage rose parade float

Public Storage's Rose Parade Float is a Labor of Love

Most people who watch the Rose Parade have no idea of the work that goes into all that New Year's Day fun. There's welded steel holding up millions of pretty flowers, and there are months, sometimes years of planning on the part of a handful of float builders.

In just two short weeks, Public Storage will proudly show off three fun−loving “space” aliens on our first float. But the project really began way back in January as all floats do, with a creative idea, a drawing and a lot of conversations. It has been an exciting learning process that we are eager to share with our readers. We also want to thank the crew of 20 local tradesmen and the many subcontractors and local suppliers who are working hard to make our dream float a reality.

a welder works on a sign for the public storage rose parade float

“I want people to look at it on New Year's Day and be overwhelmed,” said our float designer, Charles Meier of Paradiso Parade Floats, “that you can't help but look at it and smile.”

Once Public Storage officials decided which of multiple concepts would be ours this New Year's, Charles created more than 100 blueprints, one of each piece of the final project. Next came work to create a chassis strong enough to support our structure, and a heavy−duty engine to move it along the five−and−a−half mile route.

Every float has a core of structural steel that in our case will contribute to our float's eventual 45,000−pound weight. Many of the crew that participated in the project, including the steel fabrication, work on floats all year and have honed their skills over decades. They also artfully weld lighter “pencil” steel bars into shapes, such as alien heads, and then cover those structures with aluminum window−screen material. That gets sprayed to create a solid surface that can be painted colors, as a guide for volunteers adding flowers, rice and lentils. Even nori seaweed, commonly used as a sushi wrap, will make it onto our float, as the eyes and lashes of aliens.

a welder works on the frame for the public storage float

All of the 10,000 square−foot surface must be covered in natural plant materials, according to parade rules. Volunteers will do a lot of that work Dec. 26 through 30, when 300 people each day will visit our drafty float tent, where they will work to put the finishing touches on our moving masterpiece. Thank you to the volunteers working on our float as well as those working on the 41 others in the 2014 Rose Parade. We can't wait to see your handiwork!

Public Storage employees are also key players in the process. Ours is the only entry in the history of the Rose Parade to involve employees from around the country in decorating. Hundreds of employees at facilities across the country have covered foam pieces of the float with straw flowers. The letters they decorated will help spell out an “alien” message to be decoded on the day of the parade.

Public Storage employees help decorate pieces of the float as an office team exercise

In addition to the chopped gold petals, our entry will feature 200 pounds of red lentils, which aren't really red but are actually a perfect match for our Public Storage orange. There will be 13,000 lime green “Kermit” button chrysanthemums adorning each one of the alien heads, plus 52,000 carnations on the space craft in a variety of neon hues.

Some more exotic flower names come from the 10,000 roses going on the skirt of the spaceship, varieties such as Hot Lady, Topaz, Star 2000, Miracle, Voodoo, Super Green, High & Magic and Cool Water. Each rose must be placed in an individual water vial. Several hundred green apples, half oranges and purple cabbages will provide whimsical accents, with help from over 200 gallons of glue used to hold it all together.

Right now the dry materials are being added to the float. The most fragile live flowers and plants won't be added until the final days or even in the early hours just before the parade.

“You work for a whole year on these floats, but so much of it comes down to a few days,” Charles said.

We hope you enjoy your own holiday season, whether it includes watching the parade or a different celebration. Please post photos of your favorite holiday traditions on Instagram using the hashtag #PSholidayPics. We look forward to sharing!

Please also share below or tell us about your holiday traditions on Facebook, or Twitter!

Enjoy the season, everyone!

by Ann Griffith

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