It's a windy day at the Pacific Coast Air Museum in Santa Rosa, where Tony Bassignani and Bruce Tinkham are arguing about the placement of Snoopy's yellow aviator scarf.
Tinkham, 75, and Bassignani, 70, are in the middle of building the museum's float, one of 20 featured in the 119th annual Luther Burbank Rose Parade on Saturday.
This year's theme is "Surf 'n' Safari" and the museum's spin on the theme has airmail pilot Snoopy surfing the clouds with his signature red doghouse affixed to a sky blue surfboard.
"We were supposed to get a real surfboard, but we ended up making one out of plywood," said Bassignani, who has been on the museum's parade float team for three years.
Snoopy, a Peanuts character created by the late cartoonist Charles M. Schulz, was often featured in the comic strip as his alter ego, a World War I flying ace.
"We were looking for something that would give a lot of color and fun for our entrants to decorate and prepare for," said Judy Groverman Walker, who has coordinated the event since 2000. "We figured it'd be nice that they could choose either the safari or a beach."
The parade, which has 4,000 participants, is expected to attract 30,000 people along the route. The air museum is hoping to follow up on its first-place win in the historical float category last year.
"We have a lot of interesting floats this year," said Groverman Walker. "Lucky Supermarkets will have a giant electric shopping cart, and the Keystone Cops will have a sort of old-fashioned paddy wagon."
The museum spent three months rebuilding a trailer donated for the event. For the last two weeks, a team built Snoopy's doghouse and made more than 2,000 coffee filter "flowers."
"We just got one of those giant coffee filter packs from Costco," said Tinkham, as he stapled the float's "clouds" to the trailer.
The museum's float this year honors local pilot Fred Wiseman's first airmail flight from Petaluma to Santa Rosa on Feb. 18, 1911. The flight took two days, and was unofficially the first airmail flight made in the United States, said Bassignani.
The U.S. Postal Service recognizes a September 1911 flight as the first official airmail flight, as pilot Earle Ovington had been sworn in as the first official airmail pilot by then-U.S. Postmaster General Frank Hitchcock.
"We wanted to try and teach kids something historical (with) the float," said Bassignani. "It's a lot of fun."
The men took Snoopy on a test drive around the museum's stockpile of old war planes, and will put the final touches, including fresh roses, on the float today.
"We highly encourage the use of fresh roses and the entries will actually lose points if they do not have at least one rose visible," said Groverman Walker.
After a brief debate, Tinkham and Bassignani have settled on where Snoopy's scarf should be. "It's on the judge's side," said Bassignani.
Tinkham looked approvingly at the finished Snoopy, whose face is angled toward the sky.
"He's daydreaming," Tinkham said.
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