LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE — Stepping around the pots of glue at the float-decorating site directly beneath the Foothill (210) Freeway, a person would never guess this utilitarian spot is a hotbed for romantic encounters.
But that’s what the Tournament of Roses does to people. The tradition of decorating floats also brings people back year after year, sometimes from far away.
For the last several years Brian and Danelle Jacobs have made their home in Sebastopol, a quiet town among the apple orchards and vineyards in Sonoma County. But at this time every year they come to La Cañada to make sure all the right flowers, leaves and seeds are on hand and successfully attached to the Rose Parade float built by the La Cañada Flintridge Tournament Assn.
They met as teen volunteers at the float staging area about 29 floats ago. Danelle was 13 and it was her first year as a volunteer. It was Brian’s second year working on the float. They started dating a few years later, eventually got married and have stuck with the float for better and for worse, richer and poorer.
What brings them back?
“We've grown up here,” Danelle said. “How many people can say they spend New Year's Eve with the people they've known since they were 15?”
Brian suggested another reason: They've become go-to people for the association. After nearly three decades, they remember where all the decorating supplies are stashed.
“We know the duct tape is kept in the cupboard above the refrigerator — even though refrigerator isn't here anymore,” he said.
At the decorating site on Wednesday, volunteer Sarah Marshall piped up with her own tale of romance.
A few years ago, when she was a recent widow and was known as Sarah Kniering, she was a volunteer selling La Cañada Flintridge Tournament Assn. memberships outside a supermarket. Mayfield “Mayf” Marshall first encountered her there, and later began showing up at the float site. There was no mistaking he was there to see Sarah, not whatever float was being decorated that year.
“We'd have lunch together there,” she said, pointing to the food tent in the parking lot.
Lunches launched a romance, and the couple are now married.
Perhaps Marshall, who now coordinates association volunteers, should consider her own experience as a talking point when she's signing people up. Hearts and flowers always seem to pair nicely.
-- Carol Cormaci, Times Community News