Festival of Dussehra

1959’s festival of Dussehra” was one of the most exciting floats entered-for all the wrong reasons. Not that the float, depicting a life-sized elephant, was uninteresting: it housed a eleven-person crew inside, nine of its members animating the float as its driver steered blindly down the route using directions radioed from the mahout above. But the 130 degrees heat in the cockpit caused the driver to pass out, and he had to be lowered into the animation room and revived while the backup driver took over. It looked like disaster was spared, until the mahout started to feel a little warm, and became engulfed in smoke. All animation ceased for a few blocks as the crew tried to put out a fire that erupted in the electrical generator. Despite the white elephant appearing to turn into, well, a white elephant her crew was victorious, and float managed to finish the Parade, winning the Mayor’s Trophy for the most outstanding city entry.

Excerpt from The South Pas Float Story-2006 Official Souvenir “a History of Doing it Ourselves“ by Jim Taveres​
Image Source: 1959 Official Tournament of Roses Parade Souvenir Program



A Bird in a Gilded Cage

The Rosy Dream
Nature and luck weren’t the only saboteurs the city’s float builders had to contend with. In 1952 the Parade was marred by a group threatening to destroy many of the floats, and the South Pas float was on their list. It was not the first time such hooliganism was attempted, but that year the would-be vandals put a letter in the newspaper, revealing their intentions, quite brilliantly, December 1. There was hence plenty of time to move the floats from their normal storage area in Pasadena to a new one in Alhambra. The South Pasadena float was spared, though other floats were damaged, the Helms Bakery float being completely incapacitated. That year’s entry from South Pasadena was entitled “A Rosy Dream,” featuring a suitcase-toting elephant with rose-colored sunglasses approaching the front door of the White House, while a sheepish donkey walked out the back down. Prescient harbinger of the changing of the guard from Truman to Eisenhower the following year, the float raised a number of the eyebrows stuck to the foreheads of the local Democrats, though most took the float in good humor-the elephant was wearing rose-colored glasses, after all, giving the float some (maybe) unintended meaning. The city again won first prize in its class, though, to be fair, that year it had no competition.

Excerpt from The South Pas Float Story-2006 Official Souvenir “a History of Doing it Ourselves“ by Jim Taveres


June in January


Jungle Roulette


The Shape of Things to Come


Pleasures of Playtime

​​The oldest self-built float in the rose parade