PASADENA - When Roseville Mayor Gina Garbolino waves to the crowds from her Northern California city's float in Thursday's Rose Parade, she'll be with someone who knows just how it's done.

Special Secition: The Rose

"I'm going to be riding with Margaret (Huntley) Main, who lives in our area. She was Rose Queen in 1940 and I'll do whatever she says," said Garbolino, trying out the classic royal "elbow, elbow, wrist, wrist" wave technique.

Garbolino came with a contingent of 750 residents from her city of 110,000 near Sacramento. She was among the hundreds of volunteers putting the final floral touches to floats inside the barns and tents at Brookside Park on Tuesday.

They swarmed over the floats, dangled from scaffolding, carried trayfuls and buckets of flowers and sat at tables doing up-close detail work with tiny onion seeds and dried plant material.

"So far it's been great - even with this," Kalli Louis joked as she sat cutting petals from boxes of strawflowers for the Roseville float, a replica of a 1909 Union Pacific engine.

"It was on my `bucket list,' to come and see the Rose Parade," Louis said.

Garbolino, who paid her dues by drying tea leaves for the float, said Roseville entered the parade as part of the city's celebration of its incorporation 100 years ago.

"It cost $200,000," she said, wincing. "But no public money was involved.


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We had `Pennies for the Parade' and all sorts of people donated pennies and their loose change." Union Pacific also contributed, she said.

White-bearded Dave Becherer from Madison, Ill., wearing his Santa hat, was back in the float barns for the 23rd year, he said, fielding the same complaints from people unhappy with their Christmas gifts.

"I love it," he said. "All the excitement, the artistry. And I love watching the parade coming down the street."

First-timer Linda Ebert came from Michigan to work on Donate Life's "Stars of Life" float in memory of her daughter Leslie Anne Ebert, who died of acute leukemia in 2001 at age 26.

Leslie Anne's "floralgraph" likeness will be one of 36 on the float, depicting loved ones who donated organs or other tissue to save another's life.

"She's one of the `stars,"' Ebert said, as she worked on putting individual iris petals on a sign. "She worked for the Washington Regional Transplant Organization in Washington, D.C., and she's the only one who didn't donate an organ, She's there because of her work."

Assistant crew chief Esther Marie Carmichael said work on the intricate floral portraits, done from photographs, started at the beginning of December. For the past few days, two shifts of 70 volunteers have worked almost around the clock to finish the 30-foot float, she said.

"It's been inspiring," Carmichael said, adding that some families came early to work on their children's portraits, while volunteers completed the work for those who came later.

"The portraits are the first thing they want to see," Carmichael said of the families. "I know what to expect when they see them - tears of joy."

janette.williams@sgvn.com

(626) 578-6300, Ext. 4482