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How much does a Rose Parade float cost? Pasadena Star News

Welder Jorge Salazar welds pieces together on the Kaiser Permanente float for the 2016 Rose Parade at Fiesta Parade Floats in Irwindale.

Welder Jorge Salazar welds pieces together on the Kaiser Permanente float for the 2016 Rose Parade at Fiesta Parade Floats in Irwindale.

The floats involve a lot of behind the scenes work that paradegoers never see.

The floats involve a lot of behind the scenes work that paradegoers never see.

The floats are a combination of engineering, beauty and lots of elbow grease.

The floats are a combination of engineering, beauty and lots of elbow grease.

Fiesta Parade Floats President Tim Estes displays a model of the Kaiser float.

Fiesta Parade Floats President Tim Estes displays a model of the Kaiser float.

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By Kevin Smith | kvsmith@scng.com | San Gabriel Valley Tribune

PUBLISHED: December 13, 2015 at 5:50 pm | UPDATED: August 28, 2017 at 3:02 am

It offers instant name recognition and the kind of worldwide visibility most businesses, organizations and communities never see in a lifetime.
But getting a float in the Rose Parade doesn’t come easy — or cheap.
The parade typically includes about 45 floats. Those who want to participate are encouraged to fill out an application and submit it to the Tournament of Roses Association nine to 12 months in advance of the parade.
The Tournament strives to maintain a balance of corporate, civic, nonprofit and international entries. So depending on the year, the number and type of vacancies will vary, which means there’s no guarantee you’ll get in. But if you do get picked, your floral creation will be seen by nearly 43 million U.S. households and another 28 million international viewers.
And the cost?
If you own a business or commercial enterprise the float participation fee is $16,500. Noncommercial organizations, such as nonprofits and hospitals, pay $5,500.
But that’s just the beginning, because you’ve still got to build your float, and that’s where the real expenses kick in. Design and construction costs will vary depending upon the sophistication of design, degree of animation and variety of floral materials. But construction costs typically start at around $250,000, according to the Tournament of Roses Association.
“The bigger the budget the more things we can do with size, length and the amount of animation,” said Tim Estes, president of Fiesta Parade Floats in Pasadena, one of four Tournament-approved float builders in the Pasadena area. “Some at bottom end can start as low as $80,000, but we’ve also had floats get as high as $350,000.”
And there are logistical concerns.
“If anything goes higher than 16 feet, it has to fold down because of low wires getting to the parade route,” he said. “And near the end of the route it also goes under the 210 Freeway. … That’s a pretty solid object.”
Fiesta is building 11 floats this year for such clients as Kaiser Permanente, Dole Packaged Foods, Northwestern Mutual and the television show “The Bachelor.” The TV viewers and 700,000 additional fans who line the parade route each year witness a stunning display of floral innovation. But those creations involve a lot of behind-the-scenes work that parade viewers never see.
“I could easily spend $40,000 just making the chassis for a float, but we try to keep the cost low.” Estes said. “Most of the floats weigh 35,000 to 40,000 pounds. During decoration week, which runs Dec. 16 through the 31, we’ll have 60 to 80 people working on each float, 16 hours a day.”
Phoenix Decorating Co. in Pasadena is building 21 floats for the 2016 Rose Parade.
“The art form dictates how we engineer it,” company President and CEO Chris Lofthouse said. “You see these beautiful floral presentations coming down the street, but there is some serious machinery underneath. You have to be revved up to create these things — and it’s stressful. We have a lot of responsibility.”
The Tournament’s Design Review Committee has to approve each float design. The committee discourages overt commercialism, although there is generally room to convey some information about what a business or organization does.
“We understand that people want to communicate something about their brand or message, so we work with them,” said Mark Leavens, who chairs the Float Entries Committee. “When they fill out their form, they put down what their objective is. Often it’s that they are celebrating a milestone, an anniversary or some special event they want the public to know about, so we’ll work with them on what their objective is.”
Kaiser’s theme for its 2016 Rose Parade float will be “Helping Mother Nature Thrive.”
“This will be our 11th year in the parade,” said Bill Caswell, senior vice president and chief operating officer for Kaiser’s Southern California operations. “Our nine float riders all are involved with improving the health of the communities we serve. In keeping with the parade theme, ‘Find Your Adventure,’ each person has done just that by looking into the needs of their community and making a difference.”
Many of the businesses, organizations and cities that will showcase floats in the parade are repeat entries. But Leavens said the event also includes about 10 new entries each year.
“We certainly value our longtime relationships with parade participants, but we also have a certain amount of natural attrition,” he said.
This year’s Rose Parade will feature 41 participating floats as well as a Royal Court float for the Rose Queen and her court and a float for each of the two teams that will be playing in the Rose Bowl. The parade will be further expanded with marching bands and equestrian units.
“The most interesting part of the whole float design build process is the creativity,” Leavens said. “Every year we see what they do to get their message across and also make it visually entertaining and impactful — it’s the ‘wow factor.’ ”

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