Asheville florist Janet Frye is headed to California later this month to help arrange thousands of flowers on four floats designed by award-winning Charles Meier for the Rose Bowl Parade. Frye was personally invited in September to join a four-person team of florists to work a week preparing the floats for the nationally-televised New Year’s Day parade.
“If you watch a parade on TV on New Year’s, you’re watching the Rose Bowl Parade,” says Frye.
In previous years, she says, float designers have offered her volunteer opportunities at the event, but due to distance and cost factors, she did not accept the positions. This year, however, she will be leading a group of volunteers who will execute Meier’s elaborate designs.
“Every float [Meier] builds, every year, wins some sort of award,” she says. The owner of Paradiso Parade Floats and 20-year veteran of float designing has a 92 percent award-winning rate, the highest in the industry, according to the company’s website.
“He decides what flowers are going to be where,” she explains, “and then we implement his design.”
Invited “out of the blue,” Frye says she believes her American Institute of Floral Design accreditation led to the job offer. “AIFD florists, worldwide, are known as people who know what they’re doing,” she says.
The national certification includes a written exam, proctored only once a year, as well as an in-person design exam, the Virginia native explains.
“It’s hard,” she notes, admitting that she failed the test by a fraction of a point on her first attempt. “The second time I passed with flying colors.”
Frye opened her business, The Enchanted Florist, in 1985, four years after moving to WNC. The business occupied a storefront for 16 years, but now Frye focuses primarily on weddings and parties.
The day after Christmas, Frye will travel to Pasadena to help place live, fresh flowers on the four themed floats — a Chinese dragon, DonateLife, Downton Abbey, and Los Angeles Lakers — which feature design elements like castles and a 1919 Bentley.
“I’m the most excited about that dragon,” says Frye. “It’s going to breathe actual fire.”
The materials Frye will be working with are all authentic, she says.
“Every bit of the float must be covered with natural botanicals,” says Frye. “There is nothing artificial on it. It’s all real, whether fresh or dried.”
The most stressful part of the job comes at the end, she says. “The last 24 hours are a big push, and you just work until it’s done.”
Frye says she plans to take photos of the floats in progress throughout the week, and will post them on her company Facebook page.
“I’m confident in flowers,” says Frye. “You put a flower in my hand, and I know what to do with it. It’s been that way all of my life.”