Here 'tis! The Rose Parade! Jan 2, 2017
The reason we're here in Pasadena! When we arrived here on Dec. 27th, we didn't even know the parade would be held on Jan 2nd. We learned, tho, that if New Year's Day falls on a Sunday, the festivities are held on Monday. The Tournament of Roses has had a “Never on Sunday” tradition since 1893, the first year since its beginning, that New Year’s Day fell on a Sunday. They wanted to avoid "frightening horses that would be hitched outside churches and thus interfering with worship services" so the events were moved to the next day, Jan 2nd. Though horses are no longer tied up outside local churches, the tradition remains to this day.
Our alarm was set for 4am, but darned if I wasn't wide awake at 3:30, possibly from excitement? Hooray -- rain was removed from today's forecast! Cool and overcast, yes, but dry. At 5:15am our coach left the fairgrounds for Pasadena, arriving sometime after 6, one of the first to arrive and get a good parking spot. Hot coffee and hot chocolate and continental breakfast goodies were set up next to the coach (it was still dark), which helped warm us up. Temp was somewhere around 50ish.
The Tournament of Roses is celebrating its 128th Rose Parade and this year's theme is "Echoes of Success." Did you know that although a few floats are still built exclusively by volunteers, most of them are built by professional float-building companies and take nearly a year to construct? Seeing these elaborate floats glide past us, the love and labor that went into each was obvious.
We are always happy to see The Blimp (we call it Manfred for some reason). I hope their crew was showing TV viewers some incredible shots of the parade. It circled the entire time we were sitting on Colorado Blvd.
Mo, Sue, and Jimmy, along with the rest of our Adventure Caravans group, plus a lot of strangers, are squeezed onto the bleachers at 316 N. Colorado Blvd. Once seated, we were parked for the duration; it would have been nearly impossible to get up and move elsewhere. We were advised to use the bathroom BEFORE you sat down! This is one set of bleachers along the parade route, with many more lining the streets. We were dressed right with jackets, and a small blanket to cover our knees.
We didn't hear it, nope. Suddenly, someone in the bleachers pointed up and yelled, "The Stealth Bomber." I had just enough time to point 'n shoot and catch the image above. Based in Whiteman AFB, Missouri, the "powerful and elegant" Air Force B-2 Spirit flew directly overhead. Quite an amazing sight to see something this huge (wingspan of 172 ft) soar silently and almost magically disappear into the clouds.
US Marine Corps Composite Band. Yesterday we saw these guys practicing at the fairgrounds (see previous post) and here they are in their Dress Blue uniforms. Marines from the 1st Marine Division Band, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing Band and Marine Band San Diego perform individually other times of the year, but the Rose Parade is the only event that brings these fantastic bands together at the same time. These marine musicians are fully combat-trained, too.
We saw this float under construction (here), one that I thought would be a wonder to see when complete. I was right, it's a beauty. Called "Teammates in Life," it presents 24 transplant recipients joining together to paddle a spectacular catamaran through a Hawaiian paradise. Photos on the sails feature 60 memorial portraits of organ donors interwoven with Polynesian tapa cloth.
This one is called "The Monkey King: Journey to Success," inspired by the epic novel "Journey to the West." I'm not familiar with the novel, but I loved the float.
The Pride of Broken Arrow, who performed at Bandfest (which we missed)
sounded strong today!
A Dole-sponsored float that showcased tradition and pageantry, it was rich with color and animation and live entertainment, including these three drummers (above) and dancers on the float and at street level ... plus four waterfalls! Its use of flowers was dazzling. At 22' high, 55' long, the whole thing was a marvel.
Miracle-Gro sponsored "Everything's Coming Up Roses," a stunning entry that used over 25,000 roses of all sizes to create the towering hollyhock blossoms, floating orbs, and lush deck gardens. Hard to imagine so many flowers going into one float, much less the amount of flowers used for all 42 parade floats! Makes me wonder ...?
This picture made me laugh when I saw it on my computer,
because the word above the wagon doesn't match!
Loved the beautiful animal details on this float, called "Echoes of Love," from The Bachelor!
Very cute costumes from the Ooltewah High Marching Band from Ooltewah, Tennessee!
My personal favorite! Cal Poly Universities designed and built "A New Leaf," creating a fantastic rain forest setting as a dramatic background for a colorful family of chameleons, including the dude above. We saw this one under construction (here) also, and the difference between "unfinished" and the final float was startling. This guy's eyeballs swiveled just like a real chameleon and it was great fun watching this float go by.
Another favorite, presented by Ragu, of all sponsors! Called "Simmered in Tradition," you see a plate of spaghetti (topped with Ragu pasta sauce, of course), giant garlic cloves, salt and pepper shakers, and much more. Ragu is celebrating 80 years of great-taste tradition. The house at the back features the founders home in Rochester NY, where they first began selling sauce in 1937. Who knew? And the really mind-blowing thing is "every inch of the float must be covered with flowers or other natural materials, such as leaves, seeds, or bark," even a house!
The City of Torrance put together this "Be Your Own Knight," using volunteers only to decorate their float. The winged dragon dramatically spews "smoke," but the float is designed as a metaphor for success by being your own knight. Cool beans!
Ah, yes, the honey bucket crew follows the equestrians!
Our crowd howled with laughter when we saw this rig easing down the hill toward our viewing stand. A giant RV is what we saw coming ... and then the entire top slowly raised, showing eight dogs taking advantage of an "accidental" pool party. Put on by Farmers Insurance (sure), it's called, "We Came, We Saw, We Covered." Very clever, indeed.
Oh my, "Prosperity in the Wild" was a real stunner! Look at those cats! Sponsored by Western Asset Management Co, it reflects the 2017 theme of "Echoes of Success" by highlighting successful efforts to preserve rare and endangered species. It sure was pretty.
Just a fragment of a towering float by The UPS Store, called "Books Bring us Together," saluting Toys for Tots Literacy Program. We loved it! (UPS is the exclusive sponsor of the Program.) This is their first ever float entry -- did a darned fine job of it, too, don't you think? I believe the 42' tall giraffe is hinged at the neck so it could maneuver under traffic signals, etc.
I've included just a small portion of what we saw. 42 impressive and gorgeous floats, a multitude of bands (and most of them playing as they marched by our bleachers, hooray!), equestrian units, the parade took two hours from beginning to end. One thing we talked about, the one thing we missed, was narration; no loud speaker, no announcers, like we're used to on television, told us what we were seeing, what was coming, etc. That was a bit of a bummer for us, but really, kind of minor overall. Being at the parade, seeing the floats, hearing the music, waving to those happy faces who were waving to us, all of it made coming here, being here, 100% good.
So, we came, we saw, and we enjoyed. I wish I had time and space and energy to post pictures of all the beauty seen on Colorado Blvd. What an amazing experience. If we had a bucket list, and we don't, we could cross off the Tournament of Roses Parade. Tomorrow is the post-parade float viewing on Sierra Madre Blvd, and that will really be icing on the cake, seeing the floats up close.