I am not a sports fan (unless you count following the FIFA World Cup every four years) so when I heard I would be working the 2011 Rose Bowl Tournament it really didn’t have a lot of significance for me. However, now that it has come and gone I have to admit I enjoyed myself and I learned a lot.
At first I had no idea which teams were playing. I found that out pretty quickly when hordes of red t-shirts disembarked from the plane at LAX. The Wisconsin Badgers (University of Wisconsin) were here en masse to route for their team against the Horned Frogs (Texas Christian University) wearing deep purple.
The next morning my job was to take forty six Badgers on a five-hour Los Angeles City bus tour. I always enjoy showing off my city to people from out of town and I had a great time. We did the usual route from the Coliseum to downtown LA to Hollywood to Beverly Hills to Century City and out to Santa Monica. In the afternoon the bus headed out to Pasadena for a live and video orientation for the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl Tournament. It was a lot more interesting than I expected.
From there we proceeded to the Float Barn where we paraded on a catwalk above the volunteers working on the floats. I was happy that we got to see the Trader Joe’s float being decorated with giant carrots and cabbages and various other fruits and veggies.
On the way out to Pasadena I had to tell the story of my experience decorating a Rose Parade Float. I worked for Nestle USA for several years. The last year I worked there they sponsored the Star Trek float. As a huge fan of the show I asked if I could help decorate. My boss, knowing my Attention Deficit Disorder problem (only a problem in certain circumstances, like all of corporate life!), made me promise I would stay for a full seven-hour shift. Of course I would, I said. Why would I want to leave sooner as I would be having so much fun!
The conditions we saw on Thursday evening at the Float Barn were nothing like the situation I faced the year of the Star Trek float. This barn was enclosed and relatively warm. The “barn” I worked in all those years ago was open at both ends with freezing rain and chilly winds whipping through from one side to the other. My hands were so numb after an hour I could hardly hold the scissors. After two hours I couldn’t feel my butt or legs. I was in mortal pain.
My task was to cut up flower petals as tiny as possible. My idea of tiny was not the same as my supervisor’s. My tray of teeny weeny itsy bitsy petal pieces kept being returned to me to be cut up even smaller. I don’t know if they just wanted me out of there, or if I was being tested because I was new, or I was seriously expected to cut the petals into infinitesimally tiny specks that could only be seen under a microscope. In any event, I suffered for five hours before giving up. If it had been any other float than Star Trek I would have probably succumbed in three. So my hat is off to all float decorators, albeit working in more comfortable conditions than those I had to put up with.
Two days after the LA City and Float Barn tours, I was the tour guide taking another busload of Badgers out to the Rose Bowl game itself. Unfortunately, “my” team lost to the Horned Frogs, but only by two points so it was at least a valiant effort. And I was sad to be saying goodbye to my cheesehead friends (although I only actually noticed one guy wearing a cheesehead, which surprised me.)
Once again the weather gods were with us as it rained, rained and rained the day before I did the city tour and the day after the Rose Bowl game. Amazing how, with only two exceptions in the history of the Rose Bowl and Rose Parade, the weather is always beautiful on New Year’s Day.
(All photos copyright roslyn m wilkins)