NHM of Los Angeles County makes tournament of roses debut with spectacular float

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NHM of Los Angeles County makes tournament of roses debut with spectacular float
The float could not have come at a more exciting time for the Museum, which opened its new Dinosaur Hall this summer.

LONDON.- At 8:00 a.m. PST on Monday, January 2, 2012, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County’s first-ever float join the 123rd Rose Parade as it begins its world-famous descent down Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena, California. With a television audience of 47 million in the U.S., 28 million viewers internationally, and another 700,000 cheering spectators along the parade route, the invitation from LA INC. The Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau to partner on the City of Los Angeles float could not have come at a more exciting time for the Museum, which opened its new Dinosaur Hall this summer.

“The Rose Parade is an iconic event for Los Angeles — the perfect opportunity to show our transformation as we approach our 100th anniversary, and to share our dinosaurs with national and international audiences,” said Dr. Jane G. Pisano, NHM President and Director.

In the spirit of all that is new — and prehistoric — at NHM, the float’s design will combine the Museum’s history with its newest exhibit and a fresh approach to the way it interacts with visitors. The rear of the float features the facade of the renovated Beaux Arts 1913 building, the original component of the museum, when it opened nearly 100 years ago.

Stampeding out of that past are three of the stars from the new Dinosaur Hall — Thomas the T. rex, the longnecked Mamenchisaurus, and an immense Triceratops. The float, titled “Dinosaurs in L.A.’s Backyard,” is being created by Pasadena’s largest float builder, Phoenix Decorating Company, and supervised by NHM Dinosaur Institute Director, Dr. Luis Chiappe, who advised on the float design.

“LA INC. is proud to partner with NHM on this year’s official City of Los Angeles float,” said Michael McDowell, LA INC.’s senior director of cultural tourism. “LA INC. is committed to promoting the outstanding cultural offerings of one of the world's premier visitor destinations, so it is fitting that we collaborate with L.A.’s oldest museum in continuous operation as the City float appears for the 113th consecutive year, the longest continuous float entry in the history of the Rose Parade.”

NHM’s float’s content — the replica of the 1913 Building and the three dinosaurs — have been formed out of steel rods, sprayed with foam, mechanically engineered, and turned into a rolling, 30,000-pound juggernaut over the past several months. The entire surface of the float must first be covered in natural “dry” materials (white beans for the Triceratop’s belly; squash, protea, and artichoke seeds for the grassy ground).

It is only just prior to the parade that multiple rose bushes, flowers, and plants arrive for preparation and application — carnations; hot pink, yellow, red, and orange bromeliads; green Mexican papaya; and green Egyptian papyrus.

Phoenix is responsible for nearly half of the floats in the parade this year. As is tradition with most Rose Parade floats, teams of volunteers will take part in the final stages of float decorating, and Museum members and volunteers are invited to the Phoenix warehouse to decorate. Eight-hour shifts will be scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis, with box meals and snacks provided by NHM. There are dry decorating days December 10 and 17. Flower decorating days are from December 26 through January 1.

On the day of the parade, the aforementioned Dr. Chiappe will be aboard the float with a group of young friends of the Museum — veterans of the Junior Scientist program and Dinosaur Institute volunteers. Post parade, on January 2-3, the float will be featured in the “Showcase of Floats” area at the end of the parade route on Sierra Madre Boulevard (details below). The life-sized T. rex and Triceratops puppets, stars of the NHM’s Dinosaur Encounters program, will make periodic appearances.

The 2012 Los Angeles Rose Parade float is entirely made possible by private contributions. No taxpayer funds are used in its creation or operation.

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