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Rose Parade: Volunteers put in long hours to finish floats

December 30, 2011 | 11:39 am

Rose Parade preparations
Sandee Verry was covered in purple statice flower petals and operating on only a few hours of sleep, but she could not keep the smile off her face.

After decades of watching the Rose Parade on television, Verry was behind the scenes at Pasadena’s Rose Palace, helping decorate the parade’s banner float. It was something she’d flown in from Palm Harbor, Fla., to do. 

“I’ve watched this parade every year since 1959, and it’s just fascinating even to be cutting flowers,” said Verry, 65. “I’ll put in whatever hours they need.”

FULL COVERAGE: 2012 Tournament of Roses

Verry is one of thousands of volunteers this week to put the final touches –- flowers -- on the Rose Parade’s more than 40 floats. Volunteers have come from across the country and are armed with thousands of gallons of glue, scissors and even blenders, where flowers are shredded into a fine powder to be glued onto the floats.

“We’re basically human ink jet printers,” said Verry’s son, Jeff, 37, of Pasadena.

The Verry family has been working on the Wells Fargo banner float, the first float in the parade, which will display the parade’s theme: Just Imagine. Sandee, Jeff and his wife, Teresa, cut purple flower petals that will be used for the pajamas of the young boy depicted on the float.  

Lynn Gast of Mission Viejo has spent the last 22 years as the chairwoman of the Petal Pushers, a group of mostly Lutheran volunteers who decorate the Lutheran Hour Ministries float and others.

“This is kind of a family tradition,” said Gast, who had two daughters working as crew chiefs on different floats.

There’s a sense of pride for volunteers in being able to point to a float and have some ownership over the parts they helped decorate, Gast said. The hours are long –- sometimes 7 a.m. until after 11 p.m. –- but the volunteer work is something she and her family look forward to every year.

“This is Christmas and New Years for us,” Gast said. “It’s kind of a way of life.”


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Photo: Sarah Crespo applies glue to the stars on one of the Rose Parade floats under construction Thursday. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times