Southern California’s famously summer hot weather disguised itself Monday as winter when coats and hats came off for many taking in the colorful excitement of the 129th Rose Parade. When the sun came up shortly before 8 a.m., the temperature rose with it, giving parade-goers an opportunity to shed clothing and stay cool under ideal weather during much of the two-hour spectacle.
Near the parade’s end, it was heating up past the 70-degree mark as the trek from the parade to the Rose Bowl Game began for many watching the parade. “You certainly can’t complain about the weather here,” said Sandy Thompson, walking with a group of friends from Oklahoma to watch their Sooners take on Georgia in the college football semifinal contest later in the day. “It’s a lot colder back home.”
Norman, Oklahoma, was listed as a chilly 17 degrees on Monday. “The weather here is perfect,” Thompson added, carrying a sweatshirt while she walked.
Her husband, Mel, noticed how nice people were at the parade, noting that going to his first Rose Parade “was a great way to start off the new year,” he said. “We’ve had a great time in Pasadena. You can’t beat the weather.”
Those on the East Coast might agree after revelers watching the ball drop in New York’s Time Square on New Year’s Eve experienced a chilly 10 degrees.
During the early morning hours before sunrise in Pasadena Monday campers along the 5.5-mile parade route were bundled up in blankets, some using propane heaters to keep warm. “It’s cold now but it’s going to be a great day, it always is,” said Sam Billings of Monrovia, who has attended the parade “at least 10 times over the years,” he said. “It’s something I look forward to every New Year’s.”
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Spirits are always high and “the best of people come out from those in attendance at the annual event,” explained Mary Madeline, who flew in for the parade from Phoenix, Arizona. “People are so friendly and in a good mood. I love how everyone says ‘happy new year.’ The floats, bands, the horses, it all makes for a wonderful day in Pasadena.”
Helping to make it wonderful was a surprise performance by the funk and soul band Earth Wind and Fire, performing “September” after popping out of The Forum’s float. The venue in Inglewood has been operating for 50 years.
It was one of the parade’s highlight, perhaps, topping the elaborate opening act featuring YouTube singer Todrick Hall, who performed in front of about 125 dancers and musicians.
Smiling faces seemed to be everywhere. The 100th Rose Queen Isabella Marez, joined by the Royal Court, waved to the crowd from start to finish, while enjoying the ride of a lifetime.
“Making a Difference” was the overall theme as Gary Sinise, an actor and humanitarian, was honored as this year’s grand marshal of the parade.
“It’s cool,” said a person in the stands as South Pasadena’s float – “Booster Club” – turned down the parade route for the journey along Colorado Boulevard. The city’s entry featured a group of animals, some waving pennants, as they headed to the big game in a vintage roadster towing a trailer full of tailgate supplies.
“Make Your Own Momentum” was the name given to Amazon’s entry as it was powered by people, eight in total pushing a giant wheel down the parade route.
The Trader Joe’s float, “Hats Off,” showcased its trademarked Fearless Flyer seated on a huge bicycle while confetti and sparkles came shooting out of his hat.
There were a few trouble spots along the way. The crowd at the corner of Orange Grove and Colorado boulevards urged the driver of the Carson float to “turn, turn, turn” the wheel as the city’s float nearly hit those seated in the front rows of the grandstands as it rounded the corner at the key intersection with the TV networks watching.
The Ag phD TV Radio float, representing a firm that provides agronomy for farmers, broke down shortly after getting underway and had to be towed.
However, it can be seen along with all the other floats throughout Tuesday at the “Showcase of Floats” near Sierra Madre and Washington Boulevards in Pasadena. Free shuttles are available from the Rose Bowl and Pasadena City College.