For those, who live in other countries you may have had Boxing Day on your news! However, in Southern California the day after Christmas is about shopping and the Pasadena Rose Parade. (Pasadena is about 30 miles NE of LAX). By the day after Christmas, all the grandstands and most of the barriers are in place. And, lots of tourists fill the shops, entertainment venues and restaurants.
The last week is crazy, long days, no sleep, tedious work, cold evenings and days, tons of organic material and thousands of workers and volunteers!!! And, everyone praying it doesn’t rain. Planning for the next year begins on January 2nd, so no rest for the weary.
Having lived in Southern California all my life, I have had wonderful opportunities to be apart of many aspects of the parade. Three evenings a week I had the privilege of watching a float being built from frame to flowers and it was an animated float. The best part was seeing it work on television. I've had the honor of being involved in the Rose Parade in other ways.
I’ve also watched flowers and other organic material being placed. Due to allergies, never participated…bummer. For many years, I viewed the floats the day after the parade which was amazing to see them up close. I highly recommend it!!! The best was when I had the wonderful opportunity of getting up early, using a port-a-potty after a night of thousands celebrating, freezing, drinking warm coffee all bundled up, and having excellent grand stand seats to watch the parade live and in person.
I was much younger when I saw the Rose Parade live. I couldn’t do it now. I wasn’t that excited, until the parade started. To actually see the parade in person was absolutely spectacular. It is something to experience at least once in your life. The floats are amazing, the colors, the size, the animation, the bands, the horses all to view the float for seconds as the parade travels 5 ½ miles over a two hour period. It also must pass under a freeway over pass. This year they have the most number of floats, forty-six. And, they estimate 1.5 million people will line the streets to watch it live.
From the Official Tournament of Roses Website, “On Thursday, January 1, 2009 at 8 a.m. (PST), millions of spectators from around the world will celebrate the New Year with the 120th Rose Parade themed Hats Off To Entertainment. The Rose Parade will once again feature the beautiful pageantry and tradition of magnificent floral floats, high-stepping equestrians and spiritedmarching bands.” The Grand Marshal for the 2009 Tournament of Roses is Cloris Leachman.
The Rose Parade began in 1890. It started out as a real estate “advertisement” to show the east coast the mild weather…we no longer need advertising! "In New York, people are buried in snow...Here our flowers are blooming and our oranges are about to bear. Let's hold a festival to tell the world about our paradise." If January 1st ever falls on a Sunday, the Rose Parade must be held on the 2nd. That tradition started because the horses outside of the churches along the parade route might be spooked.
“The Rose Parade's elaborate floats have come a long way since the Tournament's early days. Today, float building is a multi-million dollar business. Although a few floats are built solely by volunteers from their sponsoring communities, most are built by professional float building companies.
Float construction begins shortly after the previous year’s Parade is over. The process starts with a specially built chassis, upon which is built a framework of steel and chicken wire. In a process called “cocooning”, the frame is sprayed with a polyvinyl material, which is then painted in the colors of the flowers to be applied later.
Every inch of the float must be covered with flowers or other natural materials, such as leaves, seeds, or bark. Volunteer workers swarm over the floats in the days after Christmas, their hand and clothes covered with glue and petals. The most delicate flowers are placed in individual vials of water, which are set into the float one by one.
Computerized animation has had an enormous impact on Rose Parade floats. Recent Parade floats have featured working roller coasters, a 50-foot replica of the Statue of Liberty, a robotic chef with moving arms, a working water slide and more, all controlled by computers. But through all the changes, the Rose Parade has remained true to its floral beginnings, and each float is decorated with more flowers than the average florist will use in five years."
After every Rose Parade, the floral masterpieces are parked in Pasadena and exhibited for visitors to walk by and see in close detail the design and workmanship that goes into these floats. Visitors are able to walk within a few feet of the floats and appreciate for themselves the creativity and the imagination of the floral displays. Seeing the floats in person is truly amazing.
Pictures and television do not do them justice. And, you don't get the beautiful smell of all the flowers or a sense of variety or detail. (Achoo!!) Remember, everything must be covered by organic materials.
I realize that there is a lot of waste in terms of money and organic materials which they try to recycle as much as possible. However, I overlook that because of the tradition and just how absolutely amazing the Rose Parade has become from being this little real estate venture. What a small idea turned into an inspirational parade.
This is an excerpt from last year’s parade:
More information can be found at the following sites: