While most people would be spending Jan. 1 with friends and family, a special group chooses to ring in the new year by collecting horse debris at the Rose Parade. They proudly call themselves the Pooper Scoopers, a name that derives from the task required of them.
Open to everyone above the age of 15, this job requires volunteers to wake up before dawn in order to suit up in their white overalls and arm themselves with brooms and shovels. Split into groups of two or three, the manure management team keeps a close eye on the television corner and follows after the equestrian units in the parade, ready to spring into action whenever a horse defecates.
This year, four Gabrielino students, seniors Rodin Batcheller, Andreas Bouffard, Joshua Raymundo and Ethan Tan have volunteered to be Pooper Scoopers.
“Whenever I saw the volunteers at the parade, I thought that their jobs were really cool,” revealed Tan. “It had been a running joke with my friend and I that we would volunteer until we actually did it.”
Tan and his fellow volunteer, Batcheller, have attended the parade for four years, and this will be their second year volunteering to be in the clean-up crew. Although there is an obvious downside to their jobs, they have no regrets about taking on their positions.
“The best part is the energy we receive from the crowd,” stated Batcheller. “Surprisingly, we receive almost [as much], if not more, cheers from the crowd than the floats do.”
During intervals between parade acts, the pooper scoopers also entertain the crowd. They will pretend to throw poop on unsuspecting audience members, feign passing out because of the smell, and even run alongside the crowd to start the wave. These are cherished tasks among the volunteers, since performing them makes them an act in the parade too.
People would never know of the Pooper Scoopers if they watched the parade from their television at home, but they are definitely an integral part of the event. Feeding off the liveliness of the crowd, the experiences and the memories motivate the volunteers to come back every year.