This year marked the first time Tournament of Roses set up a Deaf event for their Rose Parade float previews; interpreters were present to share the experiences and include the Deaf as part of Pasadena’s community.
The organizer, Caireesa Berry, is a member of the Tournament of Roses. Having taken ASL in high school and learning about Deaf culture, she felt it was important to reach out and provide the Deaf community with the opportunity to see and hear the stories about the floats firsthand. After discussion with her boss, she found five interpreters and reserved 100 spaces for Deaf visitors and their families.
The five interpreters volunteered along with the tour guides; they were very professional and fantastic. They swiftly and clearly described the process and variety of materials to create the colors such as orange peels, rice, straw flowers, and even seaweed on the floats.
One builder recounted stories about the process–including one harrowing story about a staple flower used for the color yellow, straw flower, being in extreme shortage this year due to the droughts. This made the builders use their creativity come up with another way to get yellow or change the color design.
As a bonus, we found out that one of the builders involved with the Donate Lives float is Deaf. His Hearing sister donated a kidney to him in an emergency. After the surgery, both became involved with Donate Lives as a thank-you and a reminder to the world the importance of saving lives. (See the photos in the gallery below–the camels float is Donate Lives’.)
Having the interpreters allowed us to fully interact with the staff, members, docents, designers, builders and painters present. Our group braved the freezing cold, inhaled the sweet smell of oranges and sour smell of glue and sipped hot cocoa while marveling at the process unfolding in front of us.
This event is free and run entirely by volunteers with easy parking, it is a wonderful opportunity for the Deaf to enjoy. Hope to see you next year!