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By Tammye McDuff
This year’s theme is to remind us that it is possible to attain your dreams, through extraordinary focus, effort, and belief that a plain yellow pumpkin can become a golden carriage. As in the tale of Cinderella, we can achieve “the impossible” by believing in the power of our dreams.
Kelley Roberts, DRFA Construction Chairman, took some time to walk Hews Media Group through the process of this year’s fairy tale float. Each year DRFA announces the Tournament of Roses theme to the citizens of Downey, opening up a sketch contest for suggested float ideas. From submitted renderings, three entries are voted on by the members of the DRFA. These three finalists are then presented to the official Tournament of Roses and one is chosen for the float.
The Glass Slipper was designed by Kelley Roberts, Jason Redfoxx, Jeff Shadic and Tom Neighbors. The 50’ by 18’ float is based upon the fairy tale story of Cinderella. The float portrays a dreamscape castle with carved arches set on the front and back, with the larger arch showing a clock about to strike midnight. The float, from beginning to end, takes an approximate five months to construct on nothing but volunteer time. It is powered by a chassis, and a 351 Windsor engine with a C6 transmission, which will travel between three and five miles an hour down the parade route, however Roberts adds “The engine goes very fast. We take it slow on the way to the parade, taking somewhere between six to eight hours to get from Downey to Pasadena, but we usually ‘book-it’ home in about four hours.”
The self-propelled float will be towed to Pasadena and back by Tighten Transportation, a Downey towing firm which donates their services every year. Another repeat donor is Leach Grain and Milling of Downey, which provides all the non-floral plant materials.
A core construction crew of 7 manufacture the structure and motor while a daily influx of volunteers worked tirelessly from December 26th to December 30th to arrange each flower and seed in perfect place. The Glass Slipper will be covered in approximately 10,000 roses in various shades of pink, yellow and yellow-red. Other herbs and seeds include barley, orange lintel, yellow and green pea, melaleuca bark, sweet rice, and pompous grass.
Riding on the float this year will be Miss Downey, Jessica Aguirre and her court, accompanied by two guests, Gordon Sodetani, the son of Downey school board member Martha Sodetani, whose father and husband died during the past year; and from Downey’s sister city of Roscommon, Ireland, Pearl Crosby-Dillon. Dillon had been diagnosed with a rare brain tumor, which was successfully operated on at Cedars Sinai Medical Center last October. She has returned from Ireland to be in the parade.
Robert has been a volunteer for 35 years, is a former president of DRFA, and for the last 20 years has been Construction Chairman. When asked what has kept him in the DRFA for such a long time, Roberts says “It is the challenge of bringing a simple sketch into reality that will glide down Colorado Boulevard. Every news network in the country will film a float that will be seen by 72 countries, Live.”
of our lives.
The float will be on display in front of the Embassy Suites Hotel, in Downey, January 3rd and January 4th.