A week after the Rose Parade it was time to say goodbye to the Bear family. The float had been on outdoor display in the rain for a week and I thought it would have all but washed away. Surprisingly it was in better shape than I thought. The flowers were quickly removed and in a short while the float was stripped back down to just the chassis.

Demolition begins

After the float was back in the construction barn the figures were pulled off and set aside for possible re-use. If the design for next year can use them it's far easier to modify a piece rather than build a new one from scratch. One year, for example, we turned a horse from the prior year into a giraffe by adding to the legs and neck. The rest of the float is cut up and the metal bits put on shelves for next year.

Sister Bear

Each year BTORA builds a smaller float for use in a local parade. The design is driven in large part by the availability of the pieces saved from the Rose Parade. Sister Bear looks good enough to use without much work to get her ready again.

Papa Bear

Poor Papa. He had won a major award for his starring role, but he doesn't seem any happier about how things turned out.


Some pieces showed more wear from their time in the rain than others. This poor bee looks a bit worse for wear, but since it only needed to last the four hours of the parade it didn't turn out too badly.

Breaking apart the pod

Breaking the hardened foam apart to get to the metalwork underneath is tough work, but the BTORA team had discovered an interesting way to encourage kids to help tear it apart as fast as possible. Coins were tossed into the foam mixture when it was prayed on, and the kids were allowed to keep any money they found as they attacked the float with every hammer in the building. Here the head of the float team starts things off with a sledge hammer to show them how it's done.

No more foam

In very short order the foam was gone. The wire mesh framing was then removed, and the supporting steel rods recycled as noted. Soon there was no sign of the bear family, just a chassis awaiting service in the next parade.

Bunny cup

Some parts of the float did survive all of the mayhem of the demolition day. Some bits like this bunny cup were given to those with major roles in bringing the float to life. We have this cup and a very large jar of mayonnaise here at home. They certainly get some unusual looks from those who don't know the history behind them. Oh, one last comment on the cup - all of our floats have a bunny hidden somewhere on them. Why? Sorry, it's an inside joke.

I have to thank everyone at BTORA for turning an idea into something magical. Everone worked very hard to transform my rough sketch into an award-winning float.

I hope you enjoyed this behind-the-scenes look at the project. Have a question or spot a mistake? Please contact me.

Click here to see our other Rose Parade floats!