Reta Callahan, a longtime resident of Dysart, has always had a special place in her heart for the Rose Bowl Parade. She absolutely loves all of the fresh flowers and the fact that every float is created from all natural items. Reta has always dreamed of seeing the parade live, so she started searching around online for ideas. She came across the idea of actually helping with the construction of the floats, and she knew right away this is something she would love! With the help of her good friends Pat Carr and Debbie Miller, they began to plan their adventure to California.
There are four companies that design and build floats for the parade. One of Pat's friends, who is a florist here in Iowa, recommended that they go with the company Fiesta. He has worked with them for several years, providing different flowers and such for the floats and he said they are wonderful to work with. They contacted Fiesta and everything was falling into place.
They booked the hotel, and got all of their flights and travel plans arranged clear back in May. They were ready to go, and very excited for this adventure! They flew out of Cedar Rapids early on the 27th, and by early they had to leave their homes at 4 am! Once they boarded the plane in Cedar Rapids, there was a half hour delay to de-ice the wings. This caused some nervousness as they only had one hour to make their layover in Minneapolis. Once in Minneapolis they had to find their way around the maze of an airport. They eventually found their terminal after running all around, with only about three minutes to spare. The plane was actually already boarding at this time. Once again, they had to wait for the place to be de-iced but shortly after they were well on their way to California!
Once they had arrived they got all checked into the hotel, and made their way to the construction site of the float. There was a large warehouse in which about 13 floats, all for Fiesta were being built. The float that the ladies worked on was called "Sunrise at the Oasis" This was a tropical themed float with big, beautiful palm trees, and several animals such as elephants, monkeys and a giant peacock. Absolutely everything has to be made from all natural products, there was thousands of flowers used as well as items like rice, split peas, walnuts, ming moss, and much much more. On the first day the ladies worked on the elephants. This required them to apply the homemade glue and then attach ming moss all over the bodies of the elephants. The ladies did this for the entire six hours they worked that day! On the second day, they worked on the feathers for the giant peacock which consisted of several different items and layers. They also constructed some of the branches or leaves that would go on top of the palm trees. On the third day the finished the peacock feathers by attaching fresh flowers for a beautiful pop of color, and they also worked on the carnations which made up the blanket on the elephants back.
All three ladies stated they had a wonderful time, and it was an amazing experience. In fact, they already have the hotel booked to go again next year. While they were building the float they met people from all over the US. Young and old, first timers and generations of families who have made this a tradition. They also said they were very taken back by how nice everyone was during the entire process. Great job on all of your hard work and dedication ladies, we can't wait to see what float you help out with next year!