Eighteen hours. From about 7:00am to 3:00am the next morning. That is how long myself along with most of the Fullerton people who attended Go West stayed and worked on the rose floats. (Shoutout to Doug & James for staying even longer). Before I go any further, a definition: Go West is an annual event hosted by the CKI @ Pasadena City College (PCC) in which CKI members from the CNH district are invited to help the Phoenix Decorating Company in Irwindale bring the Rose Floats to life. The event spans three days: the first day dedicated to fellowship activities & DCMs, second day entirely for working on the Rose Floats, and lastly the third day for an optional morning shift then adjournment. Housing is provided, since it spans two nights, but you are not required to sleep at the YMCA that’s provided as our base of operation; if you happen to live relatively nearby, I personally suggest you sleep at home but stay until the doors are locked for the night. Since this was my second-year attending Go West, and so I pretty much knew what to expect in terms of activities, scheduling, what mementos we would receive to keep (this year it was only a T-Shirt) and what jobs we might be able to do once on site. On the first day/night, most of the time was dedicated to each division’s DCMs, dodgeball, basketball, settling in, and prepping for the next day. There was also a mini photo booth in one of the DCM rooms, and ultimately it was your choice on how to spend the first night, as long as you are present during the Go West shift briefing and before the doors are locked for the night.
After a good night’s rest (realistically, not really ‘good,’ as the floors were hard and the gym in general cold, but I encourage you to sleep as early as you can), people in shift one will wake up around 5:45am to get ready, eat breakfast, then depart by 7:00am to decorate; those who chose the 2nd shift can sleep in and chill in the YCMA gym until around 3:00pm. Once you arrive on site, regardless of the shift, you’ll be briefed on expectations and general safety, then divided into large groups to decide what you want to work on. For my group, we got to work on the Trader’s Joe float, specifically helping install all 212,000 flowers, one by one. The process was relatively simple: the float’s “skin” was a paper mache-esque material layered on a honeycomb wire skeleton, and all we had to do was 1. Apply a layer of what they call Oasis glue on the part we will be working one, 2. Punch a hole in the “skin” using a scissor, then finally 3. Insert a pre-glued flower into the hole. Pretty straight-forward, and overall it did not begin to feel boring/tedious until near the end of the first shift. By that point, my hands and parts of my arm were caked and spotted in oasis glue, on top of dust and other float materials beginning to cling to my clothes and face. As the day wore on, the number of volunteers slowly began to trickle down, increasing the amount of work needed to be done by those who were planning to stay through all the shifts and those who just arrived. By the time the 2nd shift ended, our club was really the only ones left working on the floats aside from people directly under Phoenix Decorating, and yet we kept working, determined to finish as much as we can before we reached our limit. Now, during my previous and 1st Go West, myself and a couple of the boys were unlucky to be placed on trash duty for the whole time, and we all vowed to never let that happen again, which was working all the way until near the end, when a Kiwanian just so happened to see us all hanging about since we had little left to do and placed on trash duty. Wrong place at the wrong time, I would say.
In total, from start to finish, excluding the lunch and dinner breaks, most of us clocked in around 17-18 hours of service, ending at around 3:00am in the morning. We only got around 2-3 hours of sleep that night, and it even rained just as we arrived back. The next morning, we all simply left for home, far too tired to attend the closing session and remarks.
Saying I was tired after the 18 or so hours was an understatement, but I felt proud of what I did, helping bring to life a float that’ll be seen by thousands and thousands of people. It’s knowing that your hard work is part of the many reasons why something so grand was able to materialize and be enjoyed by many is what puts a smile on my face. I will definitely attend the next Go West that comes to town, and I hope this overview of my experience has given you a better understanding of the event and inspired you to attend next year.