Hinton’s design work comes up roses
If you watched the Tournament of Roses Parade Jan. 2 you saw the work of New Albany floral designer Kevin Hinton. He worked on the float for the TV program, “The Bachelor,” which won the President’s Trophy.
That award is given for the most effective floral use and presentation and was titled, “Echoes of Love.”
“It represented one of the highlights of the show,” Hinton said, with a small hut in the midst of lush jungle, exotic animals and red roses with gold wedding bands. Coincidentally, the show began its’ 21st season on the day of the parade.
The overall parade theme this year was “Echoes of Success” and was designed to celebrate the contributions of those who inspire and help build character.
This is Hinton’s eighth year to participate in the event. “I work for the Fiesta Float Company,” he said.
Fiesta does designs for trade shows and mall events but specializes in floats, much like some Mardi Gras float companies. This year Fiesta was responsible for 13 floats in the parade.
Hinton said the company may be contacted by clients who want to have entries or it may seek clients on its own.
The floats are covered all in floral or fresh flowers, he confirmed.
Preparing for the Rose Parade is a year-long project. “They start in January for next year,” Hinton said.
It all starts with design. “They have designers from all over the U. S., most of them in the New York area,” he said. “The client says this is what I want and then the designer does sketches and a rendering.”
He said it takes six to eight months to build the basic float structures.
The actual covering, however, is done in five days.
“We start after Dec. 26 and basically work until we’re finished on the 30th,” he said. “The floats are judged on the 31st and the parade is on the 1st (although the parade has a tradition of never being held on a Sunday).”
After the parade the floats are all moved to a public viewing area where people can see them up close for about a week. After that, as much of the floats is recycled as can be, Hinton said.
It’s difficult to estimate the number of flowers on a float, but they can come from all over the world. Getting all the flowers in one place and have them fresh could be a logistical nightmare but Hinton said the people involved have been doing it so long it isn’t a problem for them.
While the number might be difficult to determine, Hinton said one float likely has several hundred thousand dollars worth of flowers on it.
“All the deck flowers are in water tubes, the big ones in Oasis Floral Foam and the dry material is glued on,” he said.
Hinton did not start out with working of floats as a goal. “I got started when I got my AIFD,” he said. That’s American Institute of Floral Designers certification. “I met a lot of folks who worked on the parade, got invited and have gone back ever since,” he said.
That was in 2009 and Hinton is the only designer from Mississippi to be invited to work on the floats.
Other than satisfaction for a job well done after a series of 12-hour days, the designers do get one perquisite: the organization gets grandstand tickets for them all and they get to watch the parade as a group.
Hinton plans to continue.
The parade started in 1890 for the local hunt club to promote the balmy weather.
Early features were chariot races, jousting and tug-of-way but the abundance of flowers inspired the club to have a parade featuring floral decorations.
One of the club members was quoted as saying, “In New York, people are buried in snow. Here our flowers are blooming and our oranges are about to bear. Let’s hold a festival to tell the world about our paradise.”
The parade grew, more events were added, reviewing stands were constructed and the event gained attention nationwide.
The Tournament of Roses Association was formed in 1895 to oversee the event each year.
The association estimates the Tournament of Roses requires about 80,000 hours of combined manpower each year. Much of the work is done by the nearly 1,000 volunteer members of the non-profit Tournament of Roses Association, who have earned the nickname “White Suiters” because of their traditional white uniforms.
Various trophies are given to recognize humor, craft, color, creativity and other float aspects.
This year’s grand marshals were Olympic medalists Janet Evans, Allyson Felix and Greg Louganis.
Hinton is the owner of Bankhead Flower Shop at 806 Jay Street.
About Lynn West
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