Watching a Rose Parade float come together is exciting in itself, but Destination Irvine has upped the thrill factor.  DI is offering people the opportunity to "Find Your Adventure" with a sweepstakes that will award 12 people and their guests a trip to Orange County that culminates in VIP treatment at the Tournament of Roses Parade on Jan. 1, 2016.

Each prize package for the winner plus three guests is valued at $3,100.  It includes round-trip airfare for four people to Orange County, a three-night stay at one of 11 Irvine hotels, ground transportation to the Rose Parade, grandstand seating, and a commemorative gift.  The sweepstakes runs through Oct. 31, 2015.  Winners will be randomly selected and notified the week of Nov. 1. To enter, visit www.destinationirvine.com/roseparade.

Meanwhile, over at the float barn, Phoenix Decorating Company artisans ae hard at work on the DI float "Innovation Rocks."  The photos in this column were taken a few days ago, and progress is continuing apace.  The helix and flask were constructed separately and welded to the deck the day before this photo was taken.  The float will roll along the parade route to the music of Oingo Boingo from the movie Weird Science while Peter the Anteater oversees the experiments. 

InnovationRocks getting the brakes installed.

Mike, a mechanic with Phoenix Decorating Company, hooks up the brakes. Next step will be "screening" the float with fine mesh.  The float will be ready for its first technical test this coming weekend. 

Linda DiMario, Vice President, Economic Development & Tourism, Irvine Chamber of Commerce gives an insight into the vision that's behind "Innovation Rocks."  She says, "Destination Irvine, along with our sponsoring hotel partners wanted to generate excitement for Irvine around this internationally re-known, world-class event.  An Irvine-themed Rose Parade float offered us an opportunity to create an ‘attraction' to draw visitors to the area."

As part of the attraction, volunteers can sign up to decorate the float.  DiMario says, "Volunteering to help decorate the Rose Parade float is a great opportunity for Irvine schools, organizations and social groups to show their civic pride."  

Books on float framing

Stacks of books on the front of the float remind folks to "book" a room at one of Irvine's great hotels.  The Irvine Chamber's Destination Irvine Rose Parade float is made possible by funding from the Irvine Hotel Improvement District and its 16 participating hotels: Atrium Hotel, Candlewood Suites, Courtyard by Marriot, Irvine Airport, Courtyard Irvine Spectrum, DoubleTree by Hilton Irvine Spectrum, Embassy Suites Irvine, Extended Stay America, Irvine Spectrum, Hilton Garden Inn, Hilton Irvine, Hotel Irvine, Irvine Marriott, La Quinta Inn & Suites, Irvine Spectrum, Residence Inn by Marriott, Irvine Airport, Residence Inn by Marriott, Irvine Spectrum, SpringHill Suites, Wyndham Irvine - Orange County Airport.   

 Float driver's seat on Innovation Rocks

 This is the driver's seat, mounted under the deck.  Not a very comfy ride, but the streets are smooth and the speed is slow-3 mph.  The driver can't see to steer, but there's a rose-colored line down the center of the route to guide him.

Observer's seat on Innovation Rocks

An observer will be hidden away in a flask in the photo to the right, but there will be a screen for him to see the street and the Tournament of Roses float liaison, who helps direct him.  The white plastic seat will be mounted on the pipe in the flask.

There's nothing quite like brushing glue on a Rose Parade float and sticking on "dry dec"-seeds, crushed flowers, spices-or putting on fresh blossoms in glorious colors.  To sign up, visit http://www.phoenixdeco.com/volunteer and choose a date.  "Innovation Rocks" is being built at the Rose Palace facility.