19 October 2008
The design for the 2009 New Mexico Rose Bowl Parade float was revealed today. Unlike last years winning but controversial entry this one seems to be wildly approved by the local-yokels.
Will Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner play as well in the 2009 Rose Bowl Parade as last year's space-aliens float, which won the Grand Marshal's trophy for "most creative concept and design"?
Float designer Raul Rodriguez thinks they will. "I was talking with (Tourism Secretary) Mike Cerletti," said Rodriguez, "and I asked him, `What's the state flower? What's the state bird?' When he said roadrunner, I thought `Beep, beep.' I knew we had a winner. "Everyone's in love with Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner," said Rodriguez, who grew up in East Los Angeles and will have 15 floats in the parade this year. New Mexico's theme is "Hats Off to New Mexico — Beep! Beep!" under the parade's theme, "Hats Off to Entertainment."
Rodriguez works with Warner Brothers in designing floats for Six Flags' amusement parks throughout the country, so he said getting permission to use the cartoon characters was no problem.
At an unveiling party of the float design at Chuck Jones Gallery on Thursday, director Mike Bundy talked of Jones' inspiration for Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner. "At age 7, he read Mark Twain's `Roughing It,' " said Bundy of Jones, who died in 2002 at the age of 89, after creating about a dozen character for Warner Brothers. "There's a passage where Twain describes a coyote that is so hungry and emaciated that he'd even eat a roadrunner." Bundy said Jones had always remembered the passage and that's where he got the idea for the characters.
Rodriguez explained that every inch of the two-story-high float has to be covered in natural materials. "We use blue statice for the Road Runner that we dry, and then we cut it and make it into a powder and glue it on," said Rodriguez. "The float uses every conceivable natural material from dry seeds and seaweed to orchids and uva grasses." The float is being built by Fiesta Parade Floats of Pasadena, Calif., under contract with the New Mexico Tourism Department. New Mexico's last Rose Bowl float cost about $180,000, with $75,000 covered by sponsors.
The 2009 float will cost about $220,000 with an estimated $170,000 from the Tourism Department's advertising budget, and the rest funded by sponsors, according to a department spokeswoman. The roadrunner's legs will be fashioned of yellow split pea beans applied one by one. And, of course, he'll be going full speed with revolving circles proving how fast he's running. The float's rock formations will spin and wobble to the musical sound track and the Road Runner's "Beep! Beep!" Wile E. Coyote will be riding an ACME rocket of dynamite — in an effort to catch the Road Runner — made of some 8,200 brilliant red carnations.
The backdrop of New Mexico will include more than 50,000 roses, with its rock formations in butterscotch and bronze chrysanthemums. Yucca blossoms will be made from more than 10,000 white dendrobium orchid florets. Black chive seeds and white sweet rice will pave the Route 66 roadway with signs to Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Roswell and Las Cruces along the way.
With more than 40 million Americans in 16.5 million households tuning in to the Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year's Day, the exposure brings national and international attention to New Mexico, said Cerletti. New Mexico hopes to bring more than 100 volunteers to Irwindale, Calif., near Pasadena, to work on the float. Bobbi Baca, a financial analyst for the U.S. Forest Service in Albuquerque, is coordinating the volunteers. "My sister-in-law and I went last year to volunteer and we had the time of our lives," said Baca.
The volunteers pay their own expenses to fly to California and for lodging. They work in two shifts a day from Dec. 26 until 6 a.m. on Dec. 31. "For me it's a working vacation," said Baca. "I was fascinated by the time and the creativity." Anyone interested in volunteering can contact Marian VanderSys with the New Mexico Tourism Department at 827-7417