The alarm went off at 5:30 a.m. on Saturday. Your Tournament of Roses Examiner is not an early riser, but I fought my first inclination to toss the clock on the floor and pull the blankets over my head.
Phoenix Decorating Company, the float designer and builder, has invited this reporter to follow the 2012 City of Los Angeles/L.A. County Natural History Museum float from design through completion. Saturday was T1 test day, a big event for the LA/NHM float, and I couldn’t miss it.
The LA/NHM float is a first-time collaboration between the city and the museum. It features a model of the 1913 Beaux Arts museum with a trio of dinosaurs romping through the rose garden in celebration of the recently opened Dinosaur Hall.
The first article in the series is “Los Angeles teams with Natural History Museum for 2012 Rose Parade float.” .
T1 is the second of three Tournament of Roses tests. Floats must ace the M1 (mechanical) test, T1 test drive, and T2 test drive before being allowed on the Rose Parade route in January. The tests take place on city streets, so they start early to avoid traffic. With limited parking and many spaces taken by floats or blocked for safety reasons, it’s important to arrive early.
I got there before sunup, and the fall air was chilly. After snapping a few pictures, I spotted the observer for the LA/NHM float with a former driver. They examined the frame critically. The observer noted that from the seat in the center front, he couldn’t see the wheels behind.
“It’s easier when you can see the wheels,” he said.
The photo gallery at left shows the 2012 LA/NHM float on T1 test day.
The former driver remarked, “When the driver can’t see the line, it’s a miserable parade. If the driver can see the line, it’s a good parade.”
To viewers, of course, if the float stays on track and doesn’t leave too much space between the marchers in front and the float, it’s a good parade. But that’s not the driver’s job, because the driver usually can’t see the road and relies on a trusted partner, the observer.
This doesn’t mean the observer has an unobstructed view of the street, however; he is hidden under the frame and cocoon on the float. Through a slit in the cocoon, he can see a rose-colored stripe—the line referred to by the driver—down the center of the 5 ½ mile parade route. The observer and driver communicate through headsets.
The video at left shows the rollout and maneuvers of the 2012 LA/NHM float for the T1 test. Explanation is below.
The T1 test measures maneuverability of a float still in the framing stage under conditions similar to the Rose Parade. In the case of Phoenix Decorating, the test takes place on Raymond Ave. in front of their Rose Palace facility, and Glenarm St. to the south.
The float pulls out from the curb, drives south down the street to the corner, makes a right turn similar to the right turn from Orange Grove Blvd. onto Colorado Blvd. on the parade route, and does a three-point turn to go north.
(The horn and bells heard in during the LA/NHM turn is not an angry driver; it is the Metro Gold Line train crossing a few hundred feet to the east.)
The float continues past the float barn, and then backs into the driveway and barn. What seems like a cavernous entry is not much higher and wider than the float, and requires quite a bit of skill to maneuver. The driver did it on the first try. Which, of course, explains why he is the driver and your TOR Examiner is not.
The folks wearing the red hats in the video are Tournament of Roses volunteers who run the tests, measure the floats, and note any issues that need to be fixed. The man in white overalls is a Tournament of Roses mechanic.
Keep following this column for regular updates on the City of Los Angeles/L.A. County Natural History Museum 2012 Rose Parade float! For a list of all the articles on the LA/NHM float, read “Follow that float: Los Angeles/Natural History Museum, from plans to parade”
The theme of the 123rd Rose Parade and 98th Rose Bowl Game is “Just Imagine…” The events take place on Monday, Jan. 2, 2012 to avoid interfering with worship services on Sunday. The Tournament of Roses is a celebration that lasts several weeks in the fall and winter, with the high points being the Rose Parade presented by Honda and the Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO. Keep following your Tournament of Roses Examiner for the latest news and for upcoming announcements.
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