CFB: Thousands line up for Pasadena's Rose Parade
RAQUEL MARIA DILLON
Associated Press Writer
PASADENA, Calif. — Flower-covered floats, marching bands and a heroic grand marshal kicked off one of the nation's biggest New Year's celebrations Friday as thousands lined up to watch the Tournament of Roses Parade.
Chesley Sullenberger — the pilot who landed a stricken jetliner on New York's Hudson River — led the 121st annual parade, themed "A Cut Above the Rest."
Onlookers gasped when Honda's three-masted sailing ship float boomed and shot sparklers and smoke rings out of its canon, right at the bleachers.
A float celebrating Mexico's bicentennial featured Mexico City's landmark Angel of Independence and an intricate flower Aztec calendar, as well as dancers costumed in traditional regional dresses.
Thousands of people staked their claims to sidewalk space along Pasadena's Colorado Boulevard and other stretches of the route early Friday, bringing sleeping bags, lawn chairs and party favors. They spent the night under the light of a rare blue moon — the second full moon in a month.
It was mostly peaceful along the parade route late Thursday, except for some minor skirmishes. A couple of fights resulted in two arrests, but no injuries, Lt. John Dewar said.
Police spokeswoman Janet Pope-Givens said Friday morning 37 people had been arrested, mostly for disorderly conduct and public drunkenness.
Jessica Mota, 19, of Pasadena staked out prime parade-watching real estate for about 30 of her friends and relatives.
She said she's been coming to see the parade since she was 10 years old.
"We camped out since 7 a.m. yesterday. My little cousins were bouncing around all night, and now they're passed out," she said, pointing to some huddled bodies underneath a sleeping bag.
When police allowed people to claim seats at noon Thursday, 66-year-old Dean Hanson and his wife Gwen took chairs off the top of their motorhome and secured primo front-row spots.
Hanson, born in Pasadena and now a resident of Northern California, has been to 59 rose parades, starting when he was 6 months old. His dad owned a business along Colorado Boulevard and was a tournament volunteer.
Hanson can provide a living history of the famed New Year's Day procession.
"We saw both major rainstorms, a hotel fire, a parade float fire," he said. "There isn't much we haven't seen."
Hanson said the parade is his favorite part of the event, but it's hard to choose a favorite part of the parade. He likes the floats, the equestrian units and the bands.
"In fact, we picked this spot specifically because all the bands play here," he said.
The National Weather Service predicts sunny weather for the parade and Rose Bowl game pitting Oregon against Ohio State.
Among hundreds of volunteers, students from Pasadena Community College and Marantha High School had possibly the dirtiest job.
Armed with shovels, overalls and rolling plastic trash cans, they started cleaning up after the parade's horses at 2 a.m. Friday.
Annie Sommers, a 16-year-old softball player, declared her white coveralls "hopelessly ugly," but accessorized with a plastic flower in her hair, rose earrings and a scarf.
Despite the dirty work, Sommers said she's happy to participate in a world-famous parade.
"I'll try out for Rose Queen next year," she said jokingly.