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Florist Takes Designs To New Heights At The 2011 Tournament of Roses Parade

Heather's Flowers Florist At Tournament of Roses“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do” says local florist Heather Miller-Beldsoe from Heather’s Flowers in McDonough, GA. Heather was one of the hundreds of volunteers to help with Cal Poly’s (California Polytechnic State University) award-winning float at the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California. FlowerShopNetwork.com had the wonderful opportunity to talk to her about her experiences. Her friends back in Georgia told her, “You’re either crazy or stupid to be going to LA by yourself!” but that didn’t stop this Georgia girl from fulfilling her dreams.

“It was March or April of 2010 when I first started getting involved with it.” Heather would constantly check on the progress of the float via their website. She submitted pictures and YouTube videos of her work, and in August it was official. She was definitely going to be apart of this iconic American tradition.

Heather left for her Tournament of Roses adventure on Dec. 27th. She was joined by residents, parents and students who take weeks off work every year, just to come out and help during Deco Week. (Deco week is the time when the flowers are actually applied to the float.) Most sponsors pay companies to create their floats, but Cal Poly’s is always 100% volunteer. They work all week under a head designer (this one happened to have just finished designing for the Oscars!) to create this mega floral creation!

Galactic Expedition - The Cal Poly 2011 Tournament of Roses Float“Whenever I go to events that have these kinds of things, most of the people are older. It was kind of nice to see that there were younger people still interested in learning this craft, because I think it gets lost.”

Cal Poly has two sister universities, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and Cal Poly, Pomona, and each built half of the float. So, the front half is built by one campus, and the back is built by another. They bring them together only one week before Deco Week! The Cal Poly campuses are technical colleges so, of course their float had a lot of creatively-animated parts, which proved quite the challenge for float decorators. No part of the float can be seen raw. Everything has to be covered with 100% natural materials: some kind of dried flowers, seed, bark, fresh flowers. No part of the actual float can be shown.

Galactic Expedition was the theme of Cal Poly’s 2011 Rose Parade float. According to their website, it features seven childhood friends building the rocket ship of their dreams and taking their imagination to soaring heights. An operative crane, a spinning planet, moving child workers and a full complement of tools and toys were all situated on an airy cloud high above the earth’s surface.

California had such bad weather right before Deco Week, so the designers didn’t even know what they had to work with until about 48 hours before. The flowers did not even arrive until 24 hours before the judging! “We were trying to trade off other items to just to start, at least greening up.” But once they were ready, the float creations took off.

“I was like a sponge. I learned to do a lot of things, from petalling, to doing dried flowers, to the different types of glues they used. Plus the whole concept of how the mechanics work,” Heather says. “We designed more down than up, and as a florist we normally design up.”

Rocket Ship on the Cal Poly Float at the 2011 Tournament of Roses

“I [also] had the opportunity to work with genista. We can’t get it in Georgia, but it’s native to California. It was the first time I was able to really work with it.”

“I did all of the fresh flower designs on the crane. That whole piece moved two different ways, side to side and the girl went up and down! So all of the flowers had to be secured. I ended up using floral zip ties. It was the only thing I could think of to hold it all in place!” [Read more…]