Elaine Kuffa of West Pittston has wanted to check “attend the Rose Parade” off her bucket list since she was a little girl.
Her involvement with the Wyoming Area Kiwanis Club offered her an opportunity to do so and she jumped at the chance.
“It was wonderful,” Kuffa said. “It was so amazing.”
Kuffa, her husband, Andy, and some 500 other Kiwanis members from around the country travelled to Pasadena, California, to help assemble the Kiwanis International float celebrating the organization’s 100th anniversary.
Kuffa’s “chance of a lifetime” came when she and her daughter attended a regional
Kiwanis convention in August.
“They asked people if they would volunteer to go to work on the Kiwanis float,” Kuffa said. “I raised my hand then I called my husband to tell him what we were doing.”
The Kuffas spent eight days in Pasadena,
working on the float for three of those days, cutting flowers, placing them in protective water vials and helping to arrange them on the colorful, birthday cake-themed float.
“Andy and I were pulled to work outside the flower tent,” Kuffa said.
The Kuffas and four others worked at a long table that first day, trimming stems off countless roses and placing the flowers in tiny, green vials filled with water to keep the blooms vibrant.
“Every rose had to be counted,” she said.
The next day, Kuffa took charge of the nine cutting tables, directing “Key Clubbers” and other Kiwanis members to get the flowers prepped for placement on the float.
“I never worked so hard or had so much fun in my life,” Kuffa said.
The day before the parade, Kuffa and her husband helped to arrange flowers, berries, seeds and leaves on the float itself. All Rose Parade floats, Kuffa explained, must be decorated with organic materials.
“My husband got to lay on the floor and used U-shaped pins to pin this really fine fernery to the bottom (of the float),” Kuffa said. “We did a lot of jobs that day.”
Finally, parade day arrived. The New Year’s Day
tradition kicked off under crystal clear blue skies with a chill in the air.
“The day of the parade it was 35 degrees, that’s the second coldest Rose Parade day ever,” Kuffa said. “We hoped for 70 (degrees), but it didn’t work.”
Kuffa watched as the Kiwanis float she had helped to decorate, dozens of other floats, marching bands and other parade participants marched by, grateful to have a chance to fulfill her lifelong dream.
“It was everything I hoped for and more,” she said.