Every inch of every float must be covered with flowers or other natural materials, such as leaves, seeds or bark.
The process starts with a specially-built chassis, upon which is built a framework of steel and chicken wire. In a process called “cocooning”, the frame is sprayed with a polyvinyl material, which is then painted in the colors of the flowers to be applied later.
Volunteer workers swarm over the floats in the days after Christmas, their hands and clothes covered with glue and petals. The most delicate flowers are placed in individual vials of water, which are set into the float one by one.
Computerized animation has had an enormous impact on Rose Parade floats. Recent Parade floats have featured King Kong stomping through a floral jungle, a guitar-playing dinosaur, pigs dancing the hula and a 60-foot-tall talking robot, all controlled by computers.
But through all the changes, the Rose Parade has remained true to its floral beginnings, and each float is decorated with more flowers than the average florist will use in five years. Applications for floats are accepted usually more than a year in advance.