Thursday, December 30, 2010


    As the old year ends and the New Year approaches, it's fun to recall all your wonderful memories!  Some people capture them with photos.  Other families capture them in scrapbooks.  But, there is another fun way to save those memories!  Celebrate the New Year and preserve a record of your particular time in history by making a time capsule.  You, your family and friends, can make this part of your New Year's Eve celebration.

   The History of the Time Capsule

   Oral histories and paintings are ways that we preserve some visual record of our pasts.  However, the art of making time capsules dates back to ancient times.  Consider the Pyramids, the Terra Cotta Warriors of China, and the temples of ancient Babylon.  These ancient wonders were intentional preservation's which show the world the wonders of these ancient civilizations.
   In our more modern times, time capsules, serve as messages to future generations about our governments, technology, and humanity.  For the 1939 World's Fair, Westinghouse Electric wanted to create a time capsule that would preserve its contents for 5,000 years.  In that time capsule, Westinghouse placed a deck of cards, alarm clock and toothbrush.  Nearly thirty years later, in the 1964 World's Fair, another time capsule was buried, and it contained contact lenses, a ball point pen and a plastic heart valve.  Today, civic groups, religious communities and scientists used time capsules.  It's not uncommon to place time capsules signifying important events or the construction of buildings.

Making Your Time Capsule 

   For your time capsule, you will need something that is sturdy, and non-biodegradable.  Plastic, metal or even heavy duty rubbers will serve you purposes.  You can find these items around your home, at your local thrift or office supply store.  If you want something large, think metal safes with combinations locks or even this plastic jars with metal lids.  An old metal coffee can works for most.  If you want something small, thin craft eggs used for Easter or Plastic pencil cases.

Time Capsule Items

   Once you pick your capsule, its time to decide what you want to put in it.  You may want to remember specific events in history.  For these things, put newspaper or Internet articles sealed in plastic baggies.  For more personal events, like births and weddings, put a memento from the event.  A knitted bootie or garter will serve nicely.  For memorable parties or milestone events, you can place photographs, movie tickets, programs, toys and even receipt.  You can even let your inner geek free by placing technology in your time capsule.  Think of Cd's, DVDs, and old cell phones.
   Don't put anything in your time capsule that could damage the other items or decay over time.  While you might think Aunt Ruth's fruit cake could survive the nuclear holocaust, it might not be an appropriate item for your time capsule.  Avoid foods, wood, wool or other perishables.

   Also, you, your family and friends can add personal notes about what makes them thankful or what's important to them today and what their hopes are for the future.  Bigger than resolutions, you may want to offer a special prayer for those who may find and open your capsule in the years to come.

Filling and storing your Time Capsule

   Whether it's part of a family activity or a party, set a time to fill and put away your time capsule.  Have everyone add an item.  Once filled, seal your capsule with glue, tape or other method of keeping air out of the container.
   Once sealed, either store your capsule in an out of the way place or bury it.  If you opt for burying your time capsule, make sure you create a map showing where you have buried your time treasures.


Opening the Capsule

   Depending on what time you have set to open your capsule, 1 year, 5 years, 10 years or 20 years, make plans to remember the date.  And, when that time comes, be ready to share and remember all the wonderful ways the world and you have changed.
   So, that old acquaintances, or events for that matter, creating a time capsule is a wonderful way to ring in a new year or decade.  For your next New Year's celebration, consider having fun by preserving a bit of your personal history.


   If you have ever seen the elaborate floats in the Tournament of Roses Parade, chances are you have wondered where all those flowers come from and how the floats are made.  The building of a Tournament of Roses Float involves hundreds of people over a year long process that begins in February.  The main structure, including elaborate hydraulic systems to operate the mechanical features of the float, is created by professional float builders, but the final application of flowers is completed primarily by volunteers just like you and me.

Float Design Begins in February

   The process begins with a meeting between the sponsor who commission the float and the people in charge of building it.  Float building companies generally design and build several floats for different clients.  Designers develop a detailed sketch that incorporates the client's wishes with the parades theme.  Once approved by the sponsor, the sketch is refined and hand colored.  The floral director then chooses the floral material to represent the overall design.  Flowers and other natural materials are chosen for both color and texture to create the illusion of living people and props.


Flowers Cover Every Square inch of Rose Parade Floats

   The rules of the Rose Parade stipulate that flowers or other natural plant materials (that have grown, are growing, or will grow) cover the entire surface of the float.  Flower blooms, moss, seeds and pods, bark, live or dried leaves, grains and vegetables selected to cover the float must be used in their natural state and cannot be dyed.

Floral Directors Calculate How Many Flowers Are Needed

 m  Experienced floral directors easily calculate the needed amount of each material by using coverage formulas for the individual plants or organic material used.  These amazing directors can quote from heart the number of roses or Gerber daisies it takes to fill one square foot of area on a parade float.

Ordering Begins in April

   Beginning in April, vendors from around the world begin receiving orders for flowers to be delivered prior to the completion of the float in late December.  One float may require between 400 and 500 varieties of flowers and millions of individual blooms.  Many are specially grown to meet the needs of the float they will be used on. Flowers must be ready to go and delivered within a one-week window prior to the parade, with some arriving the morning of the parade.

Flowers Arrive in Refrigerated Trucks in December

   Refrigerated trucks begin arriving in Pasadena the week of Christmas and place the flowers in refrigerated tents that may cover half of a football field.  Each float-building company operates one or two of these tents and stores flowers in buckets or on racks, with the flowers for each float sectioned and marked ready to go to the individual floats.  About 10 days prior to the parade, flowers are moved to float-building barns.


Giant Paint by Number Picture Directs Float Assembly

   The base of the float is sprayed with a polyvinyl shell and painted to resemble a paint by number picture to indicate which plant material should be placed in each area.  Builders follow the pattern to fill in areas with the appropriate material.

Volunteers Get to Work Completing the Float

   Volunteers from all across the nation do much of the manual work of assembling the floats.  Volunteers are assigned specific jobs to match their skill level.  First time volunteers may spend the day cutting flowers or removing individual petals.  More experienced volunteers work on more intricate details of the float.  Volunteers begin at the top and work their way to the bottom.  The most intricate details are left to last, often completed within hours of the parade.  Volunteers complete the base last to avoid damage from workers as they work on other areas.  Roses and blooms that require water rest in vials of water, attached to the base.  Other less fragile flowers are attached to wire stems and inserted into floral foam.  Some materials, like individual flower petals are glued in place to create the desired effect.  Dried flowers may be blended to a fine powder and used for shading.

Long Hours Complete the Work on Floats

   The work of assembling the float is long and difficult.  It take 60 volunteers working 10-hour days, 10 days to complete a float.  Once completed the float leader inspects the float for any errors and gives the final word that the float is ready to go.

Floats Take a 12 Mile Journey to the Parade Site

   Floats are then towed to the parade route in Pasadena.  The journey is a mere 12 miles long, but it takes anywhere from 5 to 8 hours to transport the floats to the parade site.  Float leaders generally pack an assortment of each material used on the float in the event that damage occurs on the way and make last minute repairs prior to parade time.

Beginning Again

   After the parade and the announcement of next year's theme, sponsors commission new floats for the upcoming year.  Old floats are stripped to the chassis and the process begins again as new visions are put to paper and designs of elaborate creations are set in motion for the year long journey to the next Tournament of Roses Parade.