How a Plan Comes Together: The Construction of a Rose Parade Float

Ever wonder how those incredible Rose Parade floats are made?  Arlene Buchmann, a graduate of Mission Bay High School, volunteers every year to help plan and construct the La Cañada-Flintridge  float entry for the annual Rose Parade on New Year’s Day in Pasadena.  This year she was kind enough to share some photos and commentary about how it all comes together.  Enjoy!

The concept design for each year’s float is chosen at the end of January.  The Head of Construction and the Conceptual Artist work together to create the final design and the blueprints for the construction.  This year’s theme was “Dino-Soar.”



We Started building the float in June:

RB Float Construct 1

We Started building the float in June


Soon the dino body was built and attached to the float base:

RB Float Construct 2


RB Float Construct 3


Real life rocket scientists (that is, JPL engineers who volunteer on the Float) do our mechanical design and implementation.  However, in the “There Are No Small Jobs” spirit, I had some “important” tasks also.

My official task this year was to weld all the leaves which would be bunched together to make primordial “flowers”.

RB Float Construct 4


At various stages of production, they kind of looked like skewered fish…

RB Float Construct 5


… or spears.  There are 120 of them!  Smile

RB Float Construct 6


… And then they were screened…RB float Construct 7

…and eventually they became real leaves…..

RB Float Construct 8


The Dino’s neck is made of free-floating steel rings which are held together with bungee cord…

RB Float Construct 9


Boy Scouts, do you remember the Clove Hitch?  My first and only Boy Scout knot.  I tied a LOT of them!

RB Float Construct 10


The rings will be covered with neoprene (yes, that’s scuba-diving fabric).  We got a big roll of it.  It’s quite heavy:

RB Float Construct 11


I was charged with making the neck and tail.  So I used my quilting supplies to cut and seam the fabric.  I never thought quilting skills would be useful on a Float!

RB Float Construct 12


We did a test fit of the neck one night…

RB Float Construct 13


And we did the final installation the next day…

RB Float Construct 14

Here was our float on its official Tournament test drive, one month before the Parade:

RB Float Construct 15

Check back tomorrow and see how it all turned out!  Thanks to Arlene for sharing, and thanks to Micaela Porte for passing this on to us!




  1. avatarAnna Daniels says

    Real Women weld, tie clove hitches, utilize quilting techniques–and build dinosaurs! Love the pictures, love the story.

  2. avatarmicaela shafer porte says

    totally cool, thanks to the san diego free press for telling our stories! keep up the good work!