Sunday, January 29, 2012

Mulch Mountain

Though The Windstorm was two months ago, the vestiges of the storm are still with us.    Fallen trees and limbs are still being ground up into mulch.   One of the grinding operations has been on Sierra Madre Blvd., just east of PHS.   The mulch mountain there is big -- probably 30 feet tall.   

Another mulch mountain is at the Sierra Madre Villa Debris Basin just west of Hastings Ranch.  The photo just doesn't do justice to the size of the mulch mountain there.   This one too is about 20-30 feet high.

At one point, I read where the mulch was available for use.  But, recently I heard just the opposite -- that the mulch is being trucked away to a landfill.   Anyone know what's really happening with this stuff?   .


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2012 Rose Parade Awards

As we usually do, we walked yesterday morning  to Sierra Madre Blvd. to take in the parade.  It was hot and sunny-- shorts and t-shirt weather - and fun.   Parade highlights included some great bands, two floats built with California Grown flowers and the pooper scoopers.   From the 90-odd parade entries, I've selected the most extraordinary and notable efforts for this year's coveted East of Allen Rose Parade Awards.  Without further adieu:


This award goes to the California Grown float with the best use of flowers grown within 200 miles of Pasadena.   The Cal Poly float, as usual, was one of  the best in the parade.   The float qualified as California Grown because 85% of the flowers used were grown in California.   Even closer to home, many of the flowers on the float are grown by students on the Cal Poly campus 
Always funny, always unique and California Grown to boot.

California Clock Co.makes the famous Kit Cat Clocks.   The company's clocks are California- made all the way and they wouldn't go for imported flowers on their float.  Though rookie entrants, they broke with Rose Parade convention and used all California grown flowers on their float.   The picture does not do justice to  this effort which was exceptionally colorful and featured skateboarders and great music.

 As a group, the pooper scoopers were extraordinary this year.  I'm not sure if these folks are tournament volunteers, professional clowns or what, but this year several of the scoopers put on a show.  This gentleman amazed the crowd with his act of balancing a broom on his chin and then paused for photos.  Now let's put this feat into perspective -- the broom he's balancing over his face just swept up fresh horse poop over the five mile parade route.   To me, this is the kind of stuff that makes for a fun time.  Great act and a.real parade highlight.     


Like the badger.

 These folks were active -- much more active than the Ducks' cheerleaders.   After five miles on the parade route they were still doing stunts.   Great group.


 Can't beat Midwest bands.   These guys were active, engaged the crowd and were fun to watch.   Band members broke up on the street to play, danced around, then some actually went into the crowd.  A great show.


The RFD TV float was led by 100 golden palominos and paid tribute to Roy Rogers, King of the Cowboys.   Saw Trigger, Bullet and Nellie Bell on the float too.  Happy trails to you....

Best living celebrity had to be Hall of Fame announcer Dick Enberg.  He rode in the parade with other greats and carried a sign with his trademark "Oh My" exclamation.  


 The alma mater deserves an award. I'm biased, but  LMU is an extraordinary college and they put together a pretty good float too.  The float celebrates the school's 100th year.  This is the first time Loyola has participated with a parade entry since 1936. 


 Longest float ever, heaviest float ever and surfing dogs.   This was the one everyone waited to see.  Only one problem -- it was hard to see the show standing on the ground.  I heard this was great on TV, but was kind of a disappointment from where I stood.


 Actually La Canada and Sierra Madre both had fun floats.   The award could have gone either way.  But, I like the guy on top of the Sierra Madre float.   Amid budget crises and decline in the local economy, fewer and fewer cities are paying to build floats for the parade.  Kudos to Sierra Madre, La Canada, Alhambra, South Pas and Glendale for hanging in there.   I don't remember an Arcadia float, but otherwise all of Pasadena's neighbors entered floats.   I like the show of the regional pride, but seems strange to me they would build their floats with imported flowers.

Monday, January 2, 2012

News Flash from the 2012 Rose Parade: Two Floats will Use California Grown Flowers

The Cal Poly float is one of only two floats in this year's Rose Parade to qualify as California Grown, meaning 85% of the flowers on the float are grown in California.
  The other 41 Rose Parade floats are mainly decorated with imported flowers.

 The Rose Parade goes back 1890 and was started by the prestigious Valley Hunt Club.  The notion was to showcase Pasadena and all its charms to easterners in hopes of enticing them to move West.   "The abundance of fresh flowers, even in the midst of winter" was part of the enticement.   As eminent club member Charles Holder said, "In New York, people are buried in snow," announced Professor Charles F. Holder at a Club meeting. "Here our flowers are blooming and our oranges are about to bear. Let's hold a festival to tell the world about our paradise."

Now, more than 120 years years after the Rose Parade began, southern California flowers still bloom in January and orange trees are loaded with fruit.  But today the Rose Parade floats carry flowers shipped in from South America.  Holder's notion of showing off our paradise has faded to oblivion.  As yesterday's LA Times pointed out, the floral paradise showcased on today's Rose Parade floats is imported.


Though news to me, this importing flowers business has been accepted for decades.

In a Star-News piece from last year, longtime float builder Jim Hynd observed, "When I first started in this industry in the '70s, 90 percent of our flowers came from within 200 miles of us.... That's totally the absolute opposite now. Most everything we get comes in from South America or other parts of the world."

Turns out that most flowers used on floats are flown from South America to Miami and then trucked 4,000 miles across country in refrigerated trailers.   Parade floats use "an estimated 20 million flowers transported from around the world in aircraft and trucks:orchids from Asia; dried everlasts from Africa; roses from Colombia and other South American countries; and tulips from Holland."

Imports are so much the standard that the official Rose Bowl rose  now hails from South America.  Last year, the Tournament of Roses and Rose Bowl named Passion Growers, a Miami-based importer of flowers grown in Columbia and Ecuador, as their official flower.    As the Times reported, the news infuriated California flower growers.


As strange as it seems, it is big news when a Rose Parade float actually uses locally grown flowers   Yesterday, the LA Times reported that floats from Cal Poly University and the California Clock Company.are using mainly California grown flowers with California Clock shooting for 100% California flowers..  The Tournament of Roses says California Clock is "the only entry to attempt that feat in many decades."   

The Cal Poly floats are always one of my favorites and I understand that the schools' floats have always used flowers grown at the SLO and Pomona campuses.  

The California Clock Company is a parade newcomer and recoiled at the notion of  buying imported flowers for its float.  The company is from Fountain Valley and is best known for its Kit Cat Clocks and its CEO, Woody Young, has distinguished himself as a star of this parade.  As related in the LA Times, "As the leader of a California company, Young said, he wanted to support locally grown ingredients.“All of the parts of our clocks are made in the U.S.,” he said. “We resisted the idea of going offshore for even part of our manufacturing, so it is just fitting that we should have California fresh-cut flowers and greens on our first Rose Parade entry.”


I am a big parade fan.  No other city the size of Pasadena has anything like it.   And, I respect the Tournament folks -- they're a civic minded lot who devote a lot of volunteer time to make this thing happen. 

But, personally, I was stunned to learn the flowers on Rose Parade floats are imported.  To me, importing the flowers gives the Rose Parade a contrived, soulless quality.   Despite all its problems, I still have pride in California and still think of the state as a place where everything grows. 

I am disappointed that parade and bowl leaders don't stand up for California growers and buy local and I am disappointed for California growers who have to compete against overseas' operations that play by different rules.    I'm saddened to learn that yet another California industry has withered in the name of "save money, live better."   

What ever happened to California pride?   Well, it is alive and well down in Fountain Valley.  Maybe it takes a quirky clock maker from the OC to restore some of the parade's local luster.   I hope Woody Young's local pride spreads and I will certainly be watching his Kit Cat Clock float this morning.