Decorating the Floats

Every square inch of a Rose Parade float's surface has to be covered with natural botanical materials.

  • What's in the bucket? Plant parts, of course. Rose Parade rules require that every square inch of each float's surface be covered with \"flowers or other natural botanical materials.\" Of course, flowers get the most attention, but a lot of floats' surfaces are also painstakingly covered with seeds, vegetables, grains, moss and bark — virtually anything that has been or could be alive. Dyeing is not allowed.

  • Here, potatoes are used to create a knobby texture. Working from hand-colored drawings, floral directors calculate how much of each material they will need to cover each float.

  • Dried beans are easy to work with and provide convincing dark-red trim for this float part.

  • Dried orange slices create the illusion of a \"tiled roof\" on this float. The most fragile and short-lived ingredients, flowers, are added last.

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