No time to stop and smell the roses: Dream leads local florist to Rose Parade |

No time to stop and smell the roses: Dream leads local florist to Rose Parade

Longtime Steamboat Springs resident Susanne Bostrom is in California helping to build the floats for the Rose Parade.
John F. Russell

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Longtime Steamboat Springs resident Susanne Bostrom can’t stop smiling these days as she talks about realizing her dream of being one of 900 volunteers who will be creating the floats for this year’s Rose Parade.

“It was always a dream of mine,” Bostrom said of working on the floats that will roll just over five miles down Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena on New Year’s Day. “Fifteen years ago, I went to the Rose Parade because I was on board of directors of FTD for our district. They took the district representatives, and we were carted around in limousines. We got to go behind the scenes and meet all the main designers and went to the parade.”

But even before that, Bostrom, who owned Alpine Floral & Atrium until she closed the business in 2012, dreamed of being a part of the New Year’s celebration. Last April, she learned she had been selected to work with Fiesta Parade Floats, one of the companies that build the nearly 30 floats in the parade. When she got the news, one of her first calls was to her former boss Roy Borodkin, who opened Alpine Floral in its first location at the Harbor Hotel in 1974.

“I called him and said I’m working on the floats in the Rose Bowl Parade this year,” Bostrom said. “He said, ‘Finally.'”

Bostrom hitchhiked from Boulder to Steamboat in 1975 and arrived with $78 in her pocket and no job. But by the end of her first day in town, she had lined up jobs as a lifeguard at the swimming pool, waiting tables at El Rancho and working at Alpine Floral.

Her job at Alpine Floral proved to be a perfect fit for the girl who graduated with degrees in ornamental horticulture and business from Alfred State College.

In college, Bostrom was required to gain experience running an actual store, so when she arrived in Steamboat, she already had experience ordering flowers, scheduling, designing and budgeting. She helped the store grow and, eventually, bought the business in April 1980 with partner Jackie Eatherton. In 1984, Bostrom and her husband, Daryl, become sole owners of the store.

Susanne Bostrom takes a moment away from working on floats for the 2020 Rose Parade to take a photograph with fellow crew members. The floats Bostrom worked on will appear in the parade, which takes place on New Year’s Day in Pasadena, California.
Photo courtesy of Susanne Bostrom

Bostrom said the biggest rewards of running a local floral business for over three decades came from being connected to the community of Steamboat and being a part of everything from homecomings and proms to weddings and funerals.

“This town grew up with me, and I grew up with it,” Bostrom said.

And through it all, she never lost sight of her dream to be part of one of the most colorful, holiday events anywhere.

The 2020 Rose Parade will feature nearly 30 floats built by a talented group of florists who worked 15 hours a day to build them. It’s estimated a million people will view the parade in person, and more than 50 million people will watch the parade on television.

The parade begins at 9 a.m. MST Wednesday and will be televised by a number of networks, including ABC and NBC.

Susanne Bostrom works on floats for the 2020 Rose Parade, which will take place Wednesday in Pasadena, California.
Photo courtesy of Susanne Bostrom

Bostrom was nominated to work on the floats by an American Institute of Floral Designers florist. After that, she was selected by Fiesta Parade Floats to serve on one of their teams.

Bostrom arrived in California on the afternoon of Thursday, Dec. 26, and began working on the float two days later when the fresh flowers arrived. She has been living with other volunteers in Azusa — a town about 16 miles outside of Pasadena where the warehouses that house the floats are located.

“They ask you to work straight through pretty much 15 hours a day,” Bostrom said. “Then, you’re done by the 31st, and that’s when the judging takes place.”

The floats in the parade are created using chicken wire and plastic skin that become the frame for plants and flowers. The visible portion of the float must all be made from plant material, with roses being part of the design. Designers can also use seeds, grasses, leaves and bark for the remarkable creations.

Susanne Bostrom stands on a platform while working on a float inside a warehouse. The floats who worked on will appear in the Rose Parade, which takes place on New Year’s Day in Pasadena, California.

Bostrom said she is working with a group of designers to create trees for four floats being created by Fiesta Parade Floats including Donate Life with the theme “Light in the Dark,” Chipotle with the theme “Cultivate the Future of Farming,” Dig Alert with the theme “Power of Safety First” and the city of Torrence with the theme “Our Garden of Hope and Dreams.”

Bostrom’s group is working under lead designer Cindy Pham, who won the Sweepstakes Float Award last year.

“It’s always been my dream,” Bostrom said. “Getting to see it 15 years ago was awesome, but it really made me want to get back and be one of the people who were working on the floats.”

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.

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