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Kenneth A. Larson has a quarter century of experience in design and construction of scenery for the Entertainment Industry and Theme Parks using Computer Aided and Traditional approaches to Design. Also experience in other areas of Design.
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Decorating a Rose Parade Float


Building the Natural History Museum (on a Rose Parade Float)

I've designed and built scenery for movies, TV, and theme parks for a third of a century. I've even help decorate the Hart Museum float for the Newhall Fourth of July Parade a few times. But I never decorated a Rose Parade float - until today.

A call went out from the Natural History Museum for volunteers to decorate the first NHM Rose Parade float. I answered the call. I arrived at Phoenix Decorating on December 29 at 6:30 am, because there is limited street parking. Phoenix has two float barns, at this location, there were about nine other floats. The Lutheran Petal Pushers coordinated most of the volunteers, but the NHM and Loyola Marymount University recruited their own. The NHM check-in desk was ready about 7:45. The Phoenix people weren't ready for us, but that was a good thing. We had so many volunteers that they needed to set up more scaffolds to hold us all. The float barn had an isle down the middle with six floats side by side on one side about ten feet apart, and several smaller ones on the other side. There is an observation platform at the front where people can come and watch. Black Beans
Straw Flowers

Black Beans
To start, they set us all to doing something simple and one by one gave us each a task with a little training. So I spent the first hour cutting straw flowers into tiny little pieces. Later these would be run through a blender to make them into almost a powder. I was assigned to place black beans on the wall of the facsimile NHM 1913 building to make a frame around the sign. There were five rows of beans in the stripe, about 20 beans to the inch, about 5 minutes per inch. Each bean had to be placed so the white dot from the stem didn't show. If you think this sounds tedious, it wasn't. It was very tedious. I spent about two hours standing with one foot on a scaffold and the other on the float. Finally my legs hurt so bad and had to ask to do something else. I had completed about 3 feet of beans, one quarter of the frame, and there was another one on the other side.

I went back to flowers for a while. A group of volunteers left the flowers to cut brussels sprouts in half to later apply to the T-Rex. About an hour after lunch I became a roofer. We glued corn husks (tamale covers that a team had ironed) to the dome of the museum until we ran out of husks and I realized my shift had been over for an hour. If this sounds tedious, you are right. My fingers were stuck together with rubber cement, but eventually it rubbed off.

Decorating these floats is so time consuming, it would be impossible to do the job without lots of volunteers. It was a once in a lifetime experience. Am I glad I did it, yes. Will I do it again, probably not.
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This page last updated: Sunday, 11-Aug-2013 00:26:23 PDT

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I hope that you find this web site helpful. It started as alight-hearted alternative to my portfolio site, and then grew. This web site is for your benefit and enjoyment and I make no profit on it. For ten years it has been supported primarily from my regular paycheck as a Set Designer and there haven't been many the last few years. I can no longer run it without help. Alternative funding is needed. Only recently I tried advertising as a way to balance the budget, but it still doesn't cover the costs. A non-tax deductable donation helps cover the cost of operating this web site and may be made to Kesign Design Consulting through PayPal.

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