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Float builders bear down

December 29, 2004

Mark R. Madler

In the more than a century the Tournament of Roses Parade has taken

place on New Year's Day, only three times has rain fallen during the

parade, and Don Hames is not expecting the fourth time to be this

weekend.

Despite arriving Tuesday to find a clogged drain at the Burbank

Water and Power garage, where the float is assembled by a steady

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stream of volunteers, Hames remains optimistic for a dry Saturday,

when the float joins dozens of others for the annual parade in

Pasadena.

"In 1982, there was a terrible rainstorm on New Year's Eve," Hames

recalled. "For the parade, we had a sunny day, but all the floats

were just saturated."

Just one of six floats built entirely by volunteers, the city's

entry -- entitled "Dinner's on ... Fire!" -- depicts a family of

bears having a backyard barbecue gone awry as the father bear loses

focus on cooking, because he's swatting at a pesky bee instead.

At a table in the garage, Burbank residents Lynn Turner and Nancy

Royer-Green decorated the "Dinner's on...Fire" sign with corn

kernels, dried red berries and dried mango.

"When we are through, we can eat whatever's left," joked Turner,

who is working on her sixth float.

Royer-Green, who is participating for a second year, said she got

involved when a neighbor "drafted" her.

"He said why not come down and help cut flowers," Royer-Green

said. "Since then, I've met a lot of great friends."

Hames, a former president of the Burbank Rose Parade Assn., said

the volunteers might be amateurs, but they do a professional job in

putting together the float.

While a bulk of work on the float is done in the weeks leading to

the parade, construction actually begins in April with the welding of

the chassis used to transport the characters built atop it that will

be decorated with roses, tulips and gladiolas. The interior includes

space for a driver and three crew members, including an observer at

the front, who has a brake to stop the float.

The observer's position is disguised this year by a picnic basket,

Hames said.

Carol Cotter, who along with her husband Bill, designed the float

as part of an annual contest sponsored by the association, said

changes were made as the float began to be built, such as changing a

kettle barbecue to a brick one.

The float features animated motions by the father and mother bears

and smoke coming from the barbecue.

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