Rose Parade Experience

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Rose Parade Experience
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By Robert Bernstein

Here are my many photos and videos of our wonderful experience at the 130th Rose Parade in Pasadena!

Several years ago my childhood friend came out to visit from the DC area with his family. They had many adventures driving all of Route 66. But one of their highlights was seeing the Rose Parade. I realized that if they could come all the way across the country for the Rose Parade, surely we could figure out how to see it!

Here was my strategy: We stayed at a funky hostel in Little Tokyo that was a bit like a college dorm. It was conveniently located near Union Station. We arrived on New Year's Eve day in time
for some walking-around sight-seeing. Then, on New Year's Day, we boarded the Metro at around 7AM and headed over to Pasadena. A lot of other people had the same idea, but it was smooth going and just about 30 minutes of a comfortable ride!

I had booked a pair of Grandstand seats which cost $75 each. A bargain compared to camping out on the street! We were told that people start staking out their spots around 5AM on the day before the parade!

It was quite festive and orderly despite the massive crowds. Various Christian evangelist groups took advantage of the pre-parade crowd to spread their message of "Repent or Burn". Not only would "Homos", Feminists and Atheists face hell fire, but so would those who wear "Yoga Pants."

In contrast, there was also a Pastafarian evangelist for the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

There was also a flyover of a Stealth Bomber. It did not look real and it was hard to tell if it was 200 feet up or 2,000 feet up. I managed to get one photo

We were at 1680 Colorado Boulevard, near Allen. The parade started about a mile away at 8AM, so the show started for us around 9AM with the extensive Honda ensemble of floats.

The parade had 88 units. Here you can see a full line-up courtesy of the Pasadena Star-News.

It is hard to pick just a few favorites, as every unit was amazing in some way! I encourage you to look at my videos and photo galleries and look for yourself! That said, below are a few of my picks.

The real glory of the parade is seeing the elaborate floats. But the marching bands and beautiful women were also an important part of the parade. These women were with the Alabama State University Mighty Marching Hornets in the 2nd parade unit

One of my favorite floats was the "Far Out Frequencies" float built by Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Pomona which was Unit 9

To quote the program guide: "Having arrived on a distant planet and incapable of using words to communicate, Cal Poly’s astronauts Morgan and Sally use musical instruments to share their message of good will with the aliens they find. Of the stems on the entry, 90 percent were grown in California, and many — including statice, marigolds and strawflowers — right on the Cal Poly campuses."

The theme this year was "The Melody of Life" and many of the units involved music in their displays. I should note that many of the units were eerily silent, though! Even those that featured music in their theme!

One of my favorites that was definitely musical and beautiful was the Yellow Submarine Unit 29

As you can see from the video, this was a float that not only had music, but also had moving parts!

Musician Chaka Khan (Unit 13) was Grand Marshall and definitely enjoying the crowd as she prepares to launch a new album

The Rose Parade features many horses

Which meant assistants who followed them picking up the poop. Some poop-pickers turned it into a fun display!

Some units had a public service message. Unit 45 by the UPS Store was called "Books Keep Us On Our Toes" and featured Olive, a book-reading, ballet- practicing ostrich. Her head, neck and legs were covered with 30,000 carnations.

In case you did not know, the Rose Parade is famous for the fact that all exposed surfaces must be covered with plant material! A lot of flower petals!

Unit 47 by 24 Hour Fitness was meant to inspire women to get active. The float featured a powerful female athlete holding a Spartan styled shield. The see-through design shows off her organs working and growing strong from activity.

The parade winds through Pasadena for over five miles, so it is impossible for every unit to be active all the time. They would get totally worn out. Here is the Carnival Cruise Lines Unit 65 which included a trampoline on top. The crowd called for a trampoline performance and they delivered.

Banda Municipal de Acosta (Unit 77) is a Costa Rican group that had to cancel for a previous Rose Parade because of the terrible hurricane. Rumor had it that they were able to make it this year from generous donations from other parade units. I have not been able to verify this.

My video shows them along with a bit of the following unit advertising the new film "How to Train Your Dragon" which included a waterfall on the float!

As I say, it is hard to pick a few favorites out of the many extraordinary scenes!

Please look here at the rest of my videos and photos!

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Lucky 777 Jan 27, 2019 12:33 AM
Rose Parade Experience

When I was in high school we'd go up and volunteer to stick carpets of flowers on the floats. It was amazing, after spending many hours with glue and mums you hallucinate a pattern of mums when you look at a blank wall, like a flashback from psychedelics.

sbrobert Jan 26, 2019 06:10 PM
Rose Parade Experience

FLICKA, way cool that you got to be part of the preparations of the Rose Parade horses!
KTNOODLE1 good that you got to see the floats parked post-parade. I would like to go again and do that. Our Solstice Parade here is on a human scale that can be appreciated at street level. The Rose Parade floats are just too huge for that. It seems the only way to appreciate them is to view them from the grandstands. And then go back as you did and look at them up close.
BIGUGLYSTICK I am happy you enjoyed the virtual Rose Parade experience! Perhaps you will be inspired to go, too!
Some people have told me they went with Santa Barbara Airbus and enjoyed the Rose Parade that way. That is probably the most affordable and easy way to go. I liked that our way we got to have some sleep in a bed before the parade!
Here I was hiking with my DC area friends during their Rose Parade visit. I am grateful to them for inspiring me to go for myself!

biguglystick Jan 26, 2019 10:02 AM
Rose Parade Experience

HOW COOOOOL! Lived here all my life and have never gone!

ktnoodle1 Jan 25, 2019 03:55 PM
Rose Parade Experience

This is a great review, thanks for sharing! I grew up 40 minutes outside of Pasadena, and over 23 years down there only ever went to see the floats parked post-parade day and even then we only did it once or twice. It is a goal of mine to see it live before I'm another decade older.

Flicka Jan 25, 2019 08:57 AM
Rose Parade Experience

Thanks, Robert, for sharing your parade experience. One year I went to help decorate the Icelandic and Morgan horses with flowers; a friend with a florist shop had been hired for the event. We were under a freeway bridge at 4am to get started (they shut down the road). Fun to be part of the preparations.

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