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Rose Parade continues 122-year tradition

The 122nd Rose Parade of the Tournament of Roses drew an estimated 700,000 spectators to view the widely publicized floats and festivities in Pasadena, Jan. 1.

The 2011 event, themed “Building Dreams, Friendships & Memories,” began at 8 a.m. and featured “spirited marching bands from throughout the nation, majestic floral floats and high-stepping equestrian units,” according to the parade’s website.

The procession, presented by Honda, marched along a five-and-a-half mile route, spending a majority of its two-hour duration on Colorado Boulevard.

More than 90 floats, bands, officials and equestrian groups participated in the parade. In total, the floats were made from 600 tons of steel and 18 million flowers, according to the parade’s official program.

For the 2011 Tournament of Roses, celebrity chef Paula Deen was selected as Grand Marshal, the individual who presides over the Rose Parade and tosses the coin before the Rose Bowl Game.

The competing teams in the Rose Bowl — University of Wisconsin, Madison, and Texas Christian University — each presented marching bands, cheerleaders, flag teams and mascots in the parade in anticipation of the game, which would begin at 2 p.m.

Spectators participate in fanfare

Although the parade began around 8, many spectators arrived hours earlier to take their spots in grandstands, along streets and in balconies. Some viewers spent New Year’s Eve camping out along Colorado to ensure their places on this primary boulevard.

A resident of the San Fernando Valley, John Ford, 54, spent the night with his son on Colorado to prepare for the parade. Despite the temperatures, which fell as low as 36 degrees on Jan. 1, Ford said he has camped out “about 12 times.”

“We enjoy it; it’s a kind of father-son time,” Ford said. “We’ve got our cot, sleeping bag, stove. It’s a tradition, and with the good weather everybody can camp out.”

According to Ford, all the sleeping bags, frying pans and fires lining the boulevard highlight a distinctive feature of the Rose Parade.

“There’s no other parade where you can camp out like this, so I think that’s a big deal,” Ford said. “I didn’t know any of these people [nearby campers] yesterday, but we shared things, we gave food to each other. There’s a lot of friendship-development.”

In contrast to the street-level spectators, guests of Wells Fargo and other companies could view the parade from balconies and heated conference rooms. Monterey Park resident and Wells Fargo employee Phuong Nyugen, 40, watched the parade from the bank’s second floor with her husband, Mark, and their two children.

“I work for the bank [Wells Fargo], so we’re asked, as an employee, to come to the bank to entertain the guests,” Nyugen, who has attended the parade for three years now, said. “It’s an opportunity to see the parade from a great view and not have to sleep overnight. It [Rose Parade] is well-orchestrated, there’s history to it, there’s Rose Queen, there’s people that help participate in making the floats — there’s a lot more than just the floats themselves.”

Along with most spectators, Dwendy Johnson, 47, viewed the parade with her family from the grandstands along Colorado. Since she had a ticket for her seat, she arrived at about 7:30 a.m.

“This is our first time to the parade, so we’ve never seen anything like this,” Johnson said. “It truly was amazing, the fact that everything was live: the flowers, the seeds. You flip through every New Year’s [Day] when you’re at home with your family and celebrating, and you’re watching it; but when you’re here and you experience it close up, it’s a totally different experience.”

As a sponsor of the Donate Life float, Johnson traveled from her home in Glen Rock, PA, to attend the parade.

“The Donate Life float was to pay tribute to people that have given the gift of life through organ, eye and tissue donation,” Johnson said. “We’re from Pennsylvania, and we brought a donor family along to drive on the float and to honor their son. Overall it was beautiful, amazing.”

City, merchants prepare for parade

In preparation for the Rose Parade, most shops along Colorado boarded up their storefronts and remained closed for New Year’s Day. However, a shop run by eXOsports stayed open to sell licensed merchandise from Wisconsin and TCU.

According to Torrance resident David Helme, an employee of the company, eXOsports has operated a store along Colorado for the Tournament of Roses for the past five years.

“We opened up just before Christmas, and we stay here until a week after the event [Rose Bowl],” Helme said. “The parade draws a lot of people to the community. Right after the parade, you would have seen the flood of people that came in here.”

Throughout the parade, officers from the Pasadena Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department were on hand to help the procession run smoothly.

A Deputy, who wished to have his name witheld, arrived with his team at 3 a.m. to monitor the intersection of Colorado and Pasadena Avenue, near the beginning of the parade route.

“The city spends a lot of time preparing for the Rose Parade: the stands are set up way in advance, the vendors, the street closures,” the Deputy said. “It [Rose Parade] is a huge economic boom for the city. It’s a big event; attendance was, I think, up. There were lots of people here, the stands were filled, [a] lot of hoopla, [a] lot of excitement — people enjoy it.”

TCU wins Rose Bowl

In the three-hour Rose Bowl Game, TCU beat Wisconsin, 21-19, according to the Los Angeles Times. Before the game, the 97,000 attendees were entertained by paratroopers, fireworks, marching bands and a look at past Rose Bowls.

For more coverage of national events, read the Nov. 3, 2010 article, Midterm election results, student reactions.

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