Dariens’ Carol Wilder-Tamme Gives a Backstage View of Preparing a Tournament of Roses Parade Float

Float flowers Rose Parade Mayflower 2020 Carol Wilder-Tamme
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Carol Wilder-Tamme is on an adventure, and appearing in the Tournament of Roses Parade this Wednesday, Jan. 1, in Pasadena, California is just one part of it.

She’s been posting pictures and descriptions about the preparations of the large Mayflower replica float being created by the General Society of Mayflower Descendants that she’ll be riding on, and you can follow along here.

Wilder-Tamme has been posting pictures and messages on her “Stayin’ Alive” blog and gave Darienite.com permission to republish them.

The work is sometimes difficult, may have a little risk (at least enough to demand that the volunteers pay attention to safety) and is resulting in a striking float, decorated with flowers and seeds, that commemorates the 400th anniversary of the landing of the Mayflower, which took some of Wilder-Tamme’s ancestors to Plymouth.

You can see the Tournament of Roses Parade starting at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, New Year’s Day on ABC and NBC.

Day One: Saturday Morning Post

In a 7:22 a.m. post, reporting on what happened on Friday, Wilder-Tamme wrote: “The first thing I did at the float barn was pick off tiny bits of yellow seeds that should not have been on the ‘Mayflower’ that will go on the back of the ship.

Mayflower float 1

All photos from Carol Wilder-Tamme's blog

Part of a mayflower for the “Mayflower” float.

Mayflower float 2

All photos from Carol Wilder-Tamme's blog

“Later that day it was mounted on the back of the ship,” Wilder-Tamme wrote.

She wrote: “Then a group of four of us went to work on the ‘Mayflower Compact.'”

Mayflower Compact float 3

The Mayflower Compact is represented on part of the float near the front.

Rose Parade Float mayflower descendants Carol Wilder-Tamme

Image from the CT Mayflower descendants Facebook account

This artist’s rendering gives an idea of what the “Voyage of Hope – 1620” float will look like. The Mayflower Compact image is on the lower right, just under the Plymouth Rock image. Carol Wilder-Tamme will be standing near it as the float proceeds on Jan. 1 in the Tournament of Roses Parade.

Mayflower float 4 crawling

Under the “Compact” scroll: “Maybe we should have asked for a college volunteer to crawl in there!” Wilder-Tamme wrote.

Mayflower float 5

“We put ‘light color sesame seeds’ on all the surfaces that should be light colored — including all the folds etc. that could be seen by standing back a few feet.”


Day Two: Posted Saturday Evening

“Today was lots of tiny detail work on the signs which will be on the sides of the ship,” Wilder-Tamme wrote in an evening post on Saturday, Dec. 28.

Mayflower float Carol Wilder-Tamme

Photos from Carol Wilder-Tamme's

Backstage view: The Mayflower float gets put together in preparation for Wednesday’s Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California. “So much has happened with the second shift yesterday…this is a panoramic view of some of the floats around us,” she wrote on Saturday.

In her late Saturday post, Wilder-Tamme wrote:

“Last night, they put the “White Rice” onto this sign.  We added the red lettering, which was cranberry seed.  Then we went to work on the ship, which was going to be made from statice flowers.  We had such fine line to fill, we had to chop the statice with double scissors for about  30 minutes before it was fine enough to utilize for this detailed work.

“Some of the rice that was put on overfilled into the space we needed for the riggings of the ship … which meant we dug it out with tweezers!”

Mayflower float rose parade decorating Carol Wilder-Tamme

Photo from Carol Wilder-Tamme's blog

More decorating


The sign General Society of Mayflower Descendants Rose Parade 2020 Carol Wilder-Tamme

“It took all day, but our team of four finished both of the signs which will be mounted on the sides of the ship,” Wilder wrote.

Mayflower float Rose parade Wilder-Tamme 2020

Wilder-Tamme wrote: “That is where I will be on the float — in front of the ship, to the right of the ‘Plymouth Rock.'”


Wilder wrote on Saturday: “We have been putting on rice, seeds, beans, etc. so far — but buckets of flowers marked “Mayflower” are now surrounding one side of the float.”

The Latest: Day Three — Sunday

Wilder-Tamme’s latest update (the text is hers, captions are from Darienite.com):

Deck Mayflower float mast Rose parade Carol Wilder-Tamme

The crow’s nest of the folding mast seen from the deck of the Mayflower float.

This morning, I was working on the upper level of the ship. (because I raised my hand when they asked for people who did not mind some climbing. ) Today at 6 a.m., we passed the “60-second test” for the masts.  They need to be lowered in 60 seconds as part of our tech test.

While I was up on deck, I was able to slip into the “brake/hydraulic lift cabin.”  The woman in this cabin communicates with the driver in the the back of the float. (This is her view!)

Ribs float Mayflower Rose Parade 2020 Carol Wilder-Tamme

Part of the challenge of steering the float is just seeing ahead.

The driver looks down at his feet and follows the line on the road.  The Brake woman brakes as necessary and needs to lower the masts in order of 1 2 3….so they fit down…and raise them 3 2 1 so they don’t smash into each other.

I made sure NOT to TOUCH anything when I was in her cabin!!!!

Working on Mayflower float masts

Photos from Carol Wilder-Tamme's blog

Preparing the float’s masts to be folded down at times. Sparks, flammable material, volunteers on a deadline, probably doing things, both physical and careful, that they’re not used to doing. What could possibly go wrong …? Well, they all look like pretty mature adults.

While I was up top….guys were welding the crows nest and sparkles were flying…while six people were applying chopped straw flowers….YIKES!  ( I took note of the closest exit!)

Mayflower float 2020 Rose parade Carol Wilder-Tamme

Flowers going into a part of the float’s display that will represent rolling waves by the side of the ship.

After lunch, I worked on this wave…applying orchids to this coconut/statice base.

Mayflower float 2020 Rose Parade Carol Wilder-Tamme Pasadena

Carol Wilder-Tamme working on the “wave” beside the Mayflower float.

Viola…much more lovely….supposed to look like froth on waves.

We could have used ear plugs today — the metal shop in the barn was grinding, soldering and in general making a great deal of high pitched construction noise.

The float riders (and their plus one) came back for a fun party and could tour other areas of the float barn.  I thought I’d keep my eyes open for new ideas for the Flower Team at church.  Maybe this one would be a bit over the top!

I did think these might be nice in the autumn for church!

This article originally was published at 9:57 a.m. The time stamp was changed to organize it within the Darienite.com newsletter.

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