It’s Jan. 1 — which means it’s time for Southern California’s New Year’s tradition: the Rose Parade. Starting at 8 a.m., Pasadena will once again play host to the more than century-old tradition, as flower-adorned floats roll the streets, revelers flock the grandstands and audiences across the country tune in television.
We’ll cover the festivities here, with reporters and photographers roving the crowd — and embedded in the parade itself.
To stay warm before the parade, a Costa Mesa family dressed in Winnie the Pooh pajamas
For one family who camped on Colorado Boulevard on New Year’s Eve, staying warm overnight meant wearing Winnie The Pooh-themed onesies and letting mom tuck her adult children into bed. Ana Rosete of Costa Mesa was dressed as Pooh himself, her pajama hood pulled over her long hair. Her husband, Daniel Camacho, bounced around as Tigger. Their daughters Desiree Camacho, 19, and Diana Camacho, 16, were Eeyore and Piglet, respectively. But this Eeyore and Piglet kept their toes warm with Ugg boots. The Costa Mesa family camped on air mattresses across the street from the Target store and got a lot of smiles from passersby who liked their jammies, which they wore for Christmas too. It was a fun change from having to doll up with perfect hair and makeup, Rosete said. When her kids — including Desiree’s 20-year-old boyfriend, John Wills — went to sleep on inflatable mattresses, she tucked them in, wrapping blankets and sleeping bags tight around them and wrapping their heads in sweaters to make sure their ears were covered. “We’re grown ups and we got tucked in,” Wills said, laughing. “I’ve got my second mom over here. Rosete grinned. The last time they camped for the Rose Parade was a decade ago, when the kids were small. It reminded her of that time, she said. The family stakes out their spot at 11:30 a.m. Sunday and kept entertained with a Disney-themed Monopoly game and a deck of cards. “It’s luxury at the Rose Parade,” Rosete said. Diana Camacho said people have been very pleasant. She loved doing this “for the ambiance.” “Everyone is so nice,” she said. “You don’t usually have people crossing the street to just say hi.”
Rose Parade floats awards announced
The Sweepstakes Award, for most beautiful entry, encompassing float design, floral presentation and entertainment, went to Singpoli American BD for its “Rising Above Paradise.” “We are extremely honored and quite humbled to have been awarded our second Sweepstakes Trophy,” said Kin Hui, CEO of Singpoli American BD, in a statement. “Rising Above tells an inspiring story of overcoming the odds against adversity. It is a story that everyone can understand. We all must rise above to make a difference in the world and we hope to motivate others to work toward achieving their own dreams like the fish at the dragon gate.” Other award winners included: Americana: Most outstanding depiction of national treasures and traditions: Farmers Insurance. Golden State: Most outstanding depiction of life in California City of Riverside. Animation: Most outstanding use of animation Underground Service Alert of Southern California (DigAlert). Grand Marshal: Most outstanding creative concept and float design Dole Packaged Foods. Showmanship: Most outstanding display of showmanship and entertainment Trader Joe’s
From Mississippi to the Rose Parade for one couple
Cara and Randy Houston celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary with a first: attending the Rose Parade. “It was one of her dreams, so we decided to make this an anniversary present to ourselves,” Houston said. The Jackson, Miss., couple arrived Friday and spent the weekend at Disneyland. They brought in the new year at the amusement park’s midnight fireworks display. Then the Houstons went to their hotel to nap before coming to see the floats before they roll down to the parade route around 3 a.m. Cara Houston’s favorite float has been — spoiler alert! — one depicting a large green dragon with horns and purple eyes. “Just pinch me,” she said. “It’s incredible.” The Houstons met in Shreveport, La., while Randy was in the Air Force, stationed there. They have three adult children, whom they took to Disneyland about 20 years ago. The parade was another thing to mark off their bucket list, Randy Houston said.
When Colorado Boulevard turns into a giant campsite
In the early morning hours of New Year’s Day, Colorado Boulevard resembled a campsite. Hundreds of people — and dogs — of all ages lined the street for several blocks, wrapped in sleeping bags and blankets while others warmed themselves with space heaters. Some campsites were quiet as their occupants wiggled to find some level of comfort on the cold sidewalk. Others were still ringing in the new year. Just off Colorado Boulevard on Delacey Avenue, a woman twerked at about 3:30 a.m. for a cheering crowd of campers. Near the MAC store on Colorado Boulevard, tortillas and marshmallows were crushed into the ground. It’s a tradition that Connor Hayton, 22, of Redlands, and his family love — throwing marshmallows and tortillas loaded with shaving cream at passing cars.
Do people get angry when their car gets hit?
“Sometimes,” Hayton said with a laugh. “I can’t say it’s always fun and games, for sure. Some people will get a little bit angry if you throw a tortilla filled with shaving cream inside of a car — as their windows are rolled down.” Hayton and his family marked off their patch of asphalt with chalk at 8 a.m. Sunday. About 3:30 a.m. Monday, Hayton stood in the middle of the carless boulevard, throwing a football with nearby campers. He had no plans to sleep. Since he was a kid, Hayton has camped out with his family for the Rose Parade. The same is true for nearby camper Jonathan Garcia, 18, of Pasadena. Garcia and his friends sat in camp chairs around a fire pit, enjoying each other’s company, but maybe not the 43-degree weather. Garcia arrived about noon Sunday to start camping with friends, who arrived a few hours early to claim their spot. The friends played card games and did some people watching, including watching a drunk man get arrested in the middle of Colorado Boulevard. They’d already seen a lot, and the parade was hours from starting. Garcia has lost track of how many times he has spent his New Year’s Day at the Rose Parade. “I’ve done this all of my life,” Garcia said. Seated next to Garcia, Twila Whitlock, 49, of Burbank, was grateful that Garcia shared some of his campsite space with her family. It was Whitlock’s first time at the Rose Parade. The Georgia native has lived in California for 12 years, but this year finally made it out to the parade.
Why? “The dogs!” she said enthusiastically, especially for 4 a.m. Donning a Minnie Mouse bow that another camper gave her, Whitlock was excited for the day and appreciative of the new friends she and her 16-year-old daughter, Destiny, and her friend, Sierra, 16, had made. In a true act of friendship, Whitlock had let Sierra come along, even though, seated on the ground, wrapped in a blanket, the 16-year-old donned a gray and crimson hoodie. Sierra was a University of Oklahoma fan.
Using a barbecue grill to stay warm while waiting for the parade
Maria Romo stood in the intersection of Colorado Boulevard and Oak Knoll Avenue just before 5:30 Monday morning, wearing a stocking cap and smiling as she stoked the fire burning in her barbecue grill, where she was putting pieces of wood. It was 45 degrees in Pasadena, and it was only going to get warmer and more pleasant during the day. She grimaced thinking about New York City, where revelers in Times Square welcomed 2018 during one of the coldest New Year’s Eves in decades at a frigid 10 degrees. “I’m sorry for them,” she said, shrugging. “That’s why we live on the West Coast.” Forecasters were predicting a pleasant day in Pasadena for the parade. Still, all along Colorado Boulevard, campers were wrapped in heavy blankets, scarves and even a few balaclavas. Families gathered around fire pits and huddled by heat lamps and propane heaters. “We complain because we can,” Romo said, laughing. “But we have the best weather.” Confetti lined the sidewalks from the midnight New Year’s celebration, capped off with noisemakers and people dancing in the street. Romo, 38, of Riverside, camped out with her aunt, brother and 16-year-old daughter, Nancy. Overnight, they made s’mores and shared chili verde and bean and cheese burritos. “It feels like a camp out,” Nancy said, wearing gloves and a scarf and blankets as she sat by the fire in a lawn chair. She managed to get a few hours’ sleep in a sleeping bag on a tarp on the ground.
Last year, it was colder, so the fire was a new edition for the family. This is their second time to camp out. Maria Romo, who works as a school language evaluator, couldn’t wait to see the city of Riverside float. Nancy loves the roses. “You see it on TV, but it’s not the same,” Nancy said. “I’m sure everyone thinks, ‘I wish I could be there once.’” Beside the barbecue grill fire, the family burned three small candles with wishes for the new year: a white one representing health, a yellow one representing money and a red one representing love. “The money one kept going out!” Nancy said. “Maybe we’ll win the lottery?” her mother chimed in, making sure it was still lighted.
Playing the ponies, Oklahoma-style, at the Rose Parade
For two little ponies, the road to the Rose Parade was a long one. Boomer and Sooner, the Welsh pony mascots for the University of Oklahoma, rode more than 1,300 miles from Norman, Okla., to strut their stuff down Pasadena’s Colorado Boulevard before the Sooners take on the University of Georgia in the Rose Bowl game. So, how do you keep two small horses calm during the Rose Parade, amid the brightly colored floats and the cacophony of tens of thousands of people cheering from the sidewalks? You spoil them, of course. Boomer and Sooner — their white hair freshly cleaned and brushed and soft — have been getting plenty of sweet talk and nose pats from their handlers. They’ve been stretching their legs this week at horse stables in Burbank, trotting around with a picturesque view of the Verdugo Mountains.
“We treat them pretty much like big dogs, actually,” said Garrett McClain, a 23-year-old OU senior and one of the pony handlers from Arlington, Texas. “If you’re really nice to them and have the right tone of voice in any situation, everything will be fine. You stay calm. Always be close to the pony.” The ponies will be pulling the crimson and white Sooner Schooner, a scaled-down covered wagon like those used by settlers crossing the United States in the 19th century. The wagon and ponies — which run out onto the field after every scoring play for OU — made their debut at a home football game against USC in 1964. (USC trounced OU 40-14, so they didn’t do much running during that game.). Boomer and Sooner and the Schooner became official school mascots in 1980. The female ponies appearing in Monday’s Rose Parade are the fifth pair of official Boomer and Sooner ponies and have been the mascots since 2008.
Cal Poly Pomona to build $3.7-million Rose Parade float facility
Cal Poly students have long assembled Rose Parade floats in a structure that left their creations exposed to rain, harsh sun and wind. Their float for the 2018 parade is one of the last that will endure those elements. Cal Poly Pomona expects to break ground on a $3.7-million float lab and design complex in mid-2018 that promises not just a roof, but also a hydraulic shop, electronic shop and 5,000 square feet in storage space. There’s also a 7,500-square-foot outdoor working space. The project is funded primarily by donations made through its Rose Float program fundraising campaign, including a $1-million donation from alumni Butch Lindley, said Cynthia Peters, a university spokeswoman. The Rose Float program has supported the university’s “learn by doing” approach to education, teaching students how to manage a team, design, engineer, weld, decorate and apply other concepts learned in classes, Peters said. “They’ll be more inspired and have the room and design workspace to come up with even more innovative ideas than in the past,” she said.
The limited space and exposure to weather hasn’t seemed to hinder Cal Poly students too much. They have won 57 awards since the university submitted its first entry to the parade in 1949, making it one of the longest-running participants.
Cal Poly Pomona and San Luis Obispo students, who work together on the floats, were the first to use hydraulics in 1968, the first to use computer-controlled animation in 1978 and the first to use fiber-optics in 1988. This year, Cal Poly Pomona and San Luis Obispo’s float entry, named “Dreams Take Flight,” features animals flying through clouds on airplanes with moving wings, Peters said.