City of Downey’s Tiki Float – Rose Parade 2012


Happy New Year! Every year on January 1st (or January 2nd in this case), we go check out the post-parade viewing of the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena. Two years ago I blogged about an under-the-sea themed float with a neat school of pufferfish, but this go-round there was a bonafide tiki float!


The City of Downey’s float was called “Enchanted Paradise” and it won the Founders’ Award, which is given to the most beautiful entry built by volunteers (as opposed to the professional float-building companies that make most of them).


The float featured a volcano that actually erupted fire, three tikis, a thatch and bamboo hut with tapa-style designs, parrots, palm trees and giant orchids.


I loved the flowers on the volcano, especially the garlands of orange mini orchids and the “lava” flowing down from the top. The audio tour said it was covered with sheet moss, Spanish moss and reindeer moss, and that the rest of the float had thousands of roses, anthuriums, carnations and ginger.


There was also a waterslide built into the volcano, but you couldn’t really see from the ground or even on the TV coverage, so I don’t really know what the point of it was. I guess it was fun for the people riding it…


All the floats have to be covered with natural materials, so this “cockatoo” was coated with white and yellow rose petals, and onion seed for the beak.


During the parade this tiki moved its arms, playing the drum. According to Stephanie Edwards on KTLA, the tikis were covered with bark, barley, mum, walnut and strawflower.


This sleepy-looking tiki was spewing out smoke during the parade. I love the “tiki torches” next to it — bamboo poles with whole pineapples, pink carnations and heliconia for fire.


One of the volunteers said that all the tropical flowers (i.e. not the roses or the mosses) had been flown in from Hawaii the previous week.


It’s interesting to me how they make something — like a palm tree — out of something else — corn husks and orchids. Palm fronds instead made it on to this tiki, giving it a cool texture.


I liked that the float designers “carved” tiki masks into the support poles of the hut, using squash seeds for some of the white details. That’s a pretty nice bamboo bar they have up there, too — only thing missing is the rum!


Riding on the float was the beauty queen Miss Downey and her entourage, a few local float association bigwigs, and author and retro slideshowist extraordinaire Charles Phoenix. (Someday I hope to try some of his kitschy Test Kitchen creations like Frosty the Cheeseball Man and the Astro Weenie Christmas Tree.)


In case you missed it on TV, you can see video of the City of Downey’s tiki float and all its moving parts on the KTLA web site (around the 2:45 mark). Milestone Products is also selling Rose Parade pins featuring the drumming tiki for $6. Check out more of my photos of the float over on Flickr.


8 responses

  1. Thanks for posting those photos of the Downey float. I had looked online for them, but didn’t find anything remotely close to how great your photos were.

    -Tiki Jones

  2. My daughter and I were the detail decorators on this float. We did the 4 tiki poles holding up the hut and the drummer god. I can give you more info on EXACTLY what materials we used (… not that Stephanie Edwards of KTLA is “wrong” but more that we are given artistic license to change things as we go and with what is available). Mahalo! TY for the kudos! Diane and Leah 🙂

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