Construction on "Innovation Rocks!" the Destination Irvine Rose Parade float, began this week at Phoenix Decorating Company in Pasadena.  The artisans have a good start on the metal work that is the foundation of the beautiful and humorous float.  It takes several weeks before the vehicle is ready to be covered in flowers, but seeing this float come together bit by bit in preparation for the New Year's Day parade is exciting.

Destination Irvine Rose Parade float chassis and deck.

The process begins in the float barn, which has a floor marked in one-foot squares for measuring.  A heavy-duty chassis is fitted with spaces for a driver, observer, and if there is float animation, operators to run it.  The tires will be filled with a special kind of foam so that there is no chance of a flat along the 5½ mile route. 

Metal sculptors go to work bending and welding lengths of pencil wire and steel rods to shape the deck of the float, and to build frames for the elements that will be hoisted and welded onto it.  Peter the Anteater, mascot of UC Irvine, is well on the way to taking his place aboard the float as an innovative scientist working in a fantastical laboratory.

UC Irvine Anteater is being sculpted at Phoenix Decorating Company.

Most exciting of all, you can sign up to decorate the float!  Hundreds of volunteers come together on weekends in December and the week between Christmas and New Year's to glue dry and fresh botanical materials on floats and make sure every square inch is covered.  It's easy to sign up on the Phoenix Decorating Company website.  Be sure to choose Rose Palace, 835 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena and note in the comments that you would like to work on the Irvine float.  Volunteers are expected to take 8-hour shifts.  FAQs and the decoration schedule are on the site, but check our posts in upcoming weeks for some insider tips.

2016 TOR Theme Poster

The 127th Tournament of Roses will be held on Jan. 1, 2016 in Pasadena.  The theme is "Find Your Adventure," a collaboration between the Tournament of Roses and the US National Park Service.  In Irvine, adventure is easy to find.  There are plenty of outdoor recreational spaces for hiking, picnicking and observing wildlife at Irvine Regional Park, San Joaquin Sanctuary, or a host of other parks in the area. 

More than 44 miles of off-road bike trails and 280 miles of on-road cycling lanes as well as many hiking trails throughout Irvine offer plenty of opportunities to get some exercise and see the sights.  A visit to nearby beaches and harbors in Orange County can be both fun and educational.  And of course, one of the favorite activities in July and August is the Orange County Fair, running through Aug. 16.  No need to wait until January to "Find Your Adventure!"