1,000 hours + 42 volunteers = Float Sweepstakes Award

1,000 hours + 42 volunteers = Float Sweepstakes Award
Posted on 11/30/2018
EPWater’s float entry in the Sun Bowl Parade came complete with a smoke-breathing, shrieking dragon.

After all the madness of the past year, Chris Juarez was about to get the one prize he really coveted since he took on El Paso Water’s float replica of the Great Wall of China. Sure, the dramatic float won the Sun Bowl Parade’s top Sweepstakes Award, but the only thing the Fleet Maintenance lead mechanic could think of was his long-standing appointment with his couch for a very long nap.

When Juarez and Fleet Maintenance Chief Ivan Ibarra decided to build a float worthy of bearing EPWater’s name, both had their eyes on a prize. Once they arrived at the Thanksgiving parade, though, both were confident they had a prizewinner on their hands.

Strong reaction

Area business owners, other float builders and passers-by crowded around EPWater’s entry, which came complete with a smoke-breathing, shrieking dragon.

EPWater’s float entry in the Sun Bowl Parade came complete with a smoke-breathing, shrieking dragon.

“They were in awe of the float, and everybody wanted pictures with it,” Juarez said. “During the parade when the dragon roared and smoked, kids went nuts. It was so weird. I wasn’t expecting the reaction it got.”

Juarez was overwhelmed by the crowd’s warm reception. After the float came to the end of the parade, a group of admirers was waiting patiently for EPWater’s float team.

“We literally had people form a line to take pictures with the float,” Juarez said.

Both said the yearlong labor of love was well worth the hours they volunteered, working late on weekdays and through Saturdays.

“This year was a challenge,” Juarez said. “Nobody here had done a float before, and it took a lot of time. We made tons of mistakes.”

“We built it by trial and error,” Ibarra said. “And we took it to the next level.”

Volunteer appreciation

Juarez and Ibarra credited the tireless effort of 42 volunteers, especially the 15 who kept coming back.

Employees and volunteers donated countless hours to the float.“I am a mechanic who had the opportunity to work with great volunteers,” Juarez said. “In the beginning, we were a team of five led by Ivan. I learned a lot about making the process happen. Teamwork was a huge factor.”

Volunteer Severo Borrego, Instrumentation Control Manager, was moved by the number of EPWater employees who shared their talents and brought the float to life.

“What really stood out is how well everyone performed, with such commitment, pride and cheerfulness,” Borrego said. “The fact that our senior leadership allowed the committee to move forward with the idea of building a float made a huge difference in the overall spirit of the group, a spirit that was carried into our work environment. It is amazing to see such an accomplishment.”

Ibarra was impressed by the skill displayed by EPWater employees.

“A lot of us here are mechanically inclined, and to mesh that into an art form is a talent,” he said.

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