Deco Week - the week between Christmas and New Year's Day - is when everything comes together and the floats get decorated. The figures are painted, then dry materials and live plants are attached. It's organized chaos for sure. Careful coordination is required to make sure one crew does not get in the way of any others. Some things like fresh roses and orchids have to wait until the last possible moment so they will look as nice as possible.
Here are some views of the work during those busy days. If only there was some way to capture the noise and intensity.
By this time Papa Bear has been fully covered in wire mesh and foamed over. The foam is white and the figures are painted to match the color scheme seen earlier on the concept art. This serves several purposes - not only does it provide a road map as to where the flowers will be placed, but if a flower does fall off during the parade it won't leave an unsightly white spot.
Sister Bear is ready for decoration to begin. The first to go is the dry materials, such as the shredded bark that will pass for bear fur, spliit peas on the turtle-headed swim float, etc. All of the live flowers are put on last.
Some dry material is used just as it grew, but many times you need to cut, split, or otherwise re-shape an item to make it more suitable for use. Dry flowers can take a lot of work to get ready. The process begins with pulling the colored petals off, with the rest usually discarded. The dry petals are placed in food blenders and ground to whatever consistency has been picked for a particular place on the float. The same flower can look quite different if finely ground or if left as a coarse powder.
Getting the ground-up flowers on the float takes a lot of patience - and a lot of glue. Glue is placed on the appropriate colored section of the float, then the flowers are put on, either by hand or with a paint brush. It's a very messy process, and a lot of attention to detail is needed to make sure that colors don't bleed into other areas.
Here's the main body of the float, which, like the bears, has been covered in wire mesh, foamed, and painted. The circular items spotted across the float will be filled with flower pots, which are used to hold large floral sprays that give the float some wonderful displays of color.
This view shows how large the tree trunk had grown to, It's about the only part of the float that didn't come out quite like we had planned. It turns out the tree had been a bit over-designed, and on our future floats, we made sure any trees looked more life-like.
As the week came near an end, it was time for the first judging.