BRINGING IN THE NEW YEAR
Rose float highlights Burbank history
Posted: 12/28/2010 07:39:06 PM PST
Updated: 12/28/2010 09:23:59 PM PST
BURBANK - Come New Year's Day, 100 years of Burbank history will float by millions of viewers. They will see the SR-71 Blackbird and the bulbous, burger-slinging Big Boy, the NBC peacock and SpongeBob SquarePants.
More than 100 pairs of hands will work for the next 24 hours to florify the symbols that define Burbank's creative and cultural influences since the city incorporated in 1911. The float kicks off a year-long celebration of Burbank's anniversary, with the theme "Centennial Celebration: Building Dreams, Friendships and Memories."
"This is about celebration," said Steve Edward, vice president for the Burbank Tournament of Roses. "It's very exciting in that the city is planning a year long celebration and the float kicks it off."
Every inch of the float - 43 feet long, 18 feet wide and 31 feet tall - will feature images known all over the world. There is the skunk that represents Burbank's link to aerospace and Lockheed Martin during the Skunks Works development of various war planes.
There is the Warner Bros Water Tower, one of many icons that signifies the major film and television studios that have made Burbank the "Media Capital of the World." There are the various personalities depicted through floragraphs and linked forever to city lore, from "Tonight Show" host Johnny Carson whose "Live from beautiful downtown Burbank" line cast some humor to a then-rundown part of the city, to animator Walt Disney, and comedian and actor Bob Hope. And there will be several other surprises, including fireworks.
Since June, volunteers from the Burbank Tournament of Roses Association worked to build the city's entry, based on a design by Julio Leon of Burbank. Mary Jane Strickland, the city's historical preservationist and founder of the Burbank Historical Society in 1973, said the 2011 float carries special meaning. "It's wonderful for us because it's been a true community event," said Strickland, whose family came to Burbank in 1913. Her mother was asked to sit on the city's first float in 1914, and her father, George R. Cole, was the city's first police chief in 1920.
Burbank, she said, was founded as a township in 1887, but later incorporated in 1911, though it was charterless for several years. Still, the city functioned well. "It shows some of those old timers were sharp old birds," she said. "They kept the city going." On Monday, volunteers from Burbank and from San Fernando and Santa Clarita valleys worked inside one of the cavernous Burbank Water and Power barns.
Many had been repeat volunteers, lured by the power of community spirit like bees, well to budding flowers. "It's definitely meaningful for us," said Diane Campbell, a volunteer who has worked on 10 floats. "It's overwhelming when you see what everybody has worked on, in the parade." "I like doing the small handiwork," added Marta Carroll, who carefully glued on teeny tiny seeds to lettering. "It's just remarkable."
Foreman Philippe Eskandar, who oversees the flower supplies, said every single part of a blossom, from the petal to the stalk, is carefully considered before it is glued or stuck onto the float. If the color of the mums received aren't the right lime green, they will be returned to the wholesaler, he said.
"Some people sort, some people cut, but most people like the pleasure of seeing the roses," said Eskandar, who has been volunteering for six years. Of the more than 50 entries in the Tournament of Roses Parade, Burbank's is one of only six constructed purely by volunteers, with funds allocated each year by the City Council. Burbank's floats have been part of the parade since 1914, though not consecutively. But the city has come away with some of the event's most prestigious awards, including the Mayor's Trophy in 1998 and 2000. "People contact us from other states looking for a float to work on because they want to be part of the experience," said Bob Hunt, president of the Burbank Tournament of Roses Association. "This is a good, family-oriented float to work on."
And the work is addictive, agreed Steven Rush, 17. He and his friend Maddie Carlborg, 15, glued cranberry seeds to the front of a classic car set at the front of the car. "I love the float," said Steven said. "I've been working on the float for years. I do the construction. The best part is on New Year's Eve, when we roll the float out. It's incredible to see what you've built."