With the second technical (T2) test come and gone last Saturday, the Destination Irvine float, "Innovation Rocks!" is well on its way to the 127th Tournament of Roses Parade on Jan. 1, 2016.  The animation is working, the bubble machine is pumping, the motor is running, and the fire drill went without a hitch.  The crew and any riders have 45 seconds to get away from the float in case of fire.  We timed the Phoenix Decorating Company driver and observer at 16 seconds.

Between now and the time flowers go on in December, there will be tweaks, a paint job, and floral choices to make.  The story this week is mostly visual, so be sure to check out the video and photos.  Readers can catch up on all the action on "Innovation Rocks!" by reading past posts in the Destination Irvine blog.

Tournament of Roses volunteers

We had the opportunity to briefly speak with "Innovation Rocks!" float liaison Michael Kareti and Asst. Chief Technical Engineer (simply, "mechanic") Eddie Villasenor, two of the 935 Tournament of Roses Association members who put on "America's New Year's Celebration" every year.  They're the folks in the white suits walking or riding Honda mopeds with the float. 

"That's your child for the night," Kareti said.  "This is my baby the whole night and down the parade route."  A float liaison escorts a float during its road tests and along the parade route, and like the drivers and observers, camps out in the lineup area on Orange Grove Blvd.  This is his first year as a liaison and fifth with the Tournament. 

The mechanic is on hand to ensure that the float works, and works safely.  Villasenor told us, "I'm responsible for this float, like an ambassador."  In the video, viewers can see Kareti and  Villasenor, as well as Mike Gillespie, a Phoenix Decorating Company employee, circling the float on a bicycle.  He keeps an eye on each float as it runs through its road tests.

Collage of people at T2 test

It takes a bit of time to get a float ready to roll in the T2 test.  While the float is still parked, the animation is tested, the engine checked, the crew compartments given a thorough going-over, Tournament volunteers and float personnel converse.

The three people at top left are Tournament of Roses volunteers who put the floats through the paces and check everything off on a list.  The man in the middle is holding a rolling tape measure to get a read on the length and width of a float.  Where a float parks on Orange Grove can be determined by length to avoid blocking driveways. 

The poppy, top right, has been sprayed with cocooning material to give a smooth surface for gluing the dry botanicals.  Observer Rex Theobald scrunches into the flask at bottom left, which has a thin coating of foam over the cocooning.  Theobald said that the window might be expanded to accommodate his height and give better visibility to his left.

Driver Joe Monaly. Jr. examines the engine at lower right.  A thicker layer of foam covers this area, and can be several inches thick in places.  The pots will hold large arrangements of fresh flowers and greens when the float is ready for judging.

Innovation Rocks T2 test nuts and bolts

The nuts and bolts of a Rose Parade float, clockwise from top left: bubble machine, tow bar, animation panel in the observer's compartment, notes tacked up on the wall in the driver's compartment.  Sean McMinimy, Production Manager at Phoenix Decorating Company, said, "The bubble machine is like a lot of kids blowing bubbles." Each of the two machines will only use ¾ of a gallon of bubble solution for the length of the parade.  Read more about McMinimy in the post of Sept. 9.

No one likes to see a Rose Parade float break down, but just in case, floats are outfitted with a trailer hitch and tow bar, which slides into a compartment beneath the deck.  Huge two trucks park in the cross streets all along the parade route and are ready to go at a moment's notice. 

Will you be there?

Folks can easily drive in from Irvine to see the Rose Parade, but what about those out-of-town relatives?  Destination Irvine has a solution!  DI is offering people the opportunity to "Find Your Adventure" with a sweepstakes that will award 12 people and three guests each with a trip to Orange County that culminates in VIP treatment at the Tournament of Roses Parade on Jan. 1, 2016.  Each prize is valued at $3,100 and 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.