While Wisconsin and Stanford fought in the Rose Bowl, Jan. 1 also found local business owner Darryl Bender front and center as the supervisor for the construction of the magnificent float that took home the 2013 Sweepstakes award.
Sponsored by Dole, the float w
as an enormous 55-foot long celebration of their food products sold throughout the world. Highlighting the elements of fire and water, the float featured both a fountain and a towering volcano that spouted real flame spurts.
Extensive details ran throughout. Several model iguanas posed around the structure and their skin was created through using split peas attached one at a time. Crafted monkeys big and small played around the space and their fur was made using dried cranberry leaves. With 3,500 roses used for the lava coming down off of the volcano and another 7,500 around the base, they certainly honored the parade’s name.
Bender has been working with Fiesta Parade Floats, who gets contracted by companies such as Dole to build floats for the parade, for over 30 years. As a supervisor, he described the job as a foreman, coordinating all of the building of the frame and directed the many volunteers to show up to help create the showpiece. “We have five days to decorate the float,” he said, beginning every year on Dec. 26. “We have to be completely finished by the night of New Years Eve.”
His part does not deal with the design. The client and Fiesta Parade Floats decide on the design, which the base framework will be in place before Bender begins to coordinate the volunteers. They come from all over the place, he said, enjoying working with so many different kinds of people. “You either love it or hate it, this kind of madness,” he said.
“We’re all in awe of the process and television never does it justice,” he said. “You are creating an art object that only exists for two days and then it’s gone.”
This was the second year in a row that the float he supervised won the grand Sweepstakes Award for the whole parade. Company wide, he said that they built nine floats and earned seven awards. “This was the 20th year in a row that Fiesta Parade Floats had the sweepstakes in house,” he said, bringing light to the competitiveness that pervades the parade with rival companies seeking to take the award away.
However, winning is not his greatest motivation in the completion of the float. “As long as the public and the client is satisfied, then that definitely satisfies me,” he said.