Stacey Yuccas, a 2011 graduate of the horticulture program at Kishwaukee College, spent a few days this past December working on every floral designers’ dream: a float for the annual New Year’s Day Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, Calif.
Yuccas, who now lives in California, was a member of the crew who constructed the float entry for the Dole Corp. The theme of the float was Dreaming of Paradise and was designed and built by Fiesta Parade Floats. Yuccas worked for Jim Hynd at Fiesta and under lead designer Philip Rice, a floral designer she has worked with before in Sacramento.
The entry won the Sweepstakes Trophy for “Most Beautiful Entry in Parade with Outstanding Floral Presentation and Design.”
“I worked on the Dole float with two lead floral designers and four other floral volunteers,” she said in a news release. “There is also a team who designs the float and its mechanics and a decorator team who does all the gluing and adds the roses.”
The floral team began working on the float on Dec. 27 and continued through Dec. 31. The Tournament of Roses Parade was held Jan. 1. She said her floral design team worked on the float more than 65 hours over the four days of float construction.
Keeping the flowers fresh required additional steps.
“Every rose had to be vialed,” Yuccas said in the release.
“There are tons of Girl Scout volunteers who help vial the roses and put them on the float decks on the last night.”
The Dole float was primarily tropical plants, including hundreds of orchids and anthuriums.
“The flowers are either in oasis or water tubes,” she said. “The oasis is secured to the float structure and the water tubes are stabbed into the structure. The most challenging part of the floral design is the mechanics – figuring out how to get the flowers where you want them. It’s hard because you have to deal with scaffolding, and, because the floats will be moving, everything needs to be extremely secure.”
The team pays particular attention to one side of the float: the “camera side.”
“It’s the side of the float the camera sees during the parade,” Yuccas said. “There is extra pressure to make sure that side is perfect for all of the viewers.”
Yuccas and the rest of the team were present when the judging took place. It was an opportunity to see the finished float with the special effects and dancers on board.
“It was incredible to see the way the finished float looked with all the flowers,” Yuccas said. “It was exciting for Fiesta to win the Sweepstakes trophy and for me personally, too.
“Overall, it was a very exciting, exhausting and rewarding experience.”