Saturday, January 03, 2009

Rose Parade float, Helen Keller, and Braille

So last month, I mentioned a family outing to the Getty. This month, we were "tourists in our own city" by going to the display of Rose Parade floats in Pasadena. For two days after the parade, the floats are parked along two streets and in a parking lot, along with food vendors and "white suits," the Rose Parade volunteers who explain how each float is made. (It's a little like if each painting in a museum had its own docent.)

The route was quite wheelable (we saw quite a number of other visitors using mobility equipment), and there were accessible buses from the park-and-ride sites. And the second float we saw was.... the Lions Club International float, titled "the Miracle Worker," with a giant black-and-white image of Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan (made of rice, poppy seeds, and onion seeds, we were told); behind it, a giant pair of glasses, a white cane, and a stack of books titled "Braille," "Helen Keller," "The Miracle Worker" etc. The "white suit" at that float showed us a braille version of the Parade program, and invited the kids to feel the braille pages.

Further along, another "white suit" invited us to go inside the barriers to touch a float and examine it at even closer range. Apparently this is an accommodation offered to disabled visitors--so my son was soon holding a starfish made of lima beans and whiffing irises.

[Photos depict the Lions Club float as described in the text of this post.]

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