Wednesday, January 4, 2017

PARADE

The Tournament of Roses Parade in 1903
Horse-drawn carriage covered in pampas grass


The Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California, is traditionally held on January 1st. It's also traditionally never held on a Sunday - so this year the 128th edition of the parade was presented on Monday, the 2nd of January.

You'd have to live in Southern California to understand what a mega event this parade used to be. It ranked right up there with the annual Hollywood Oscars ceremony.

I've seen the parade live several times, worked as a volunteer putting flowers on the floats (never again...) and - one New Year's Day morning, in the throes of a nasty hangover - I took a wrong turn off the freeway and accidentally wound up in Pasadena just when the parade was about to start. I still get nightmares remembering the traffic congestion and chaos.

When I was a kid, the Tournament of Roses Parade mostly consisted of floats filled with massive flowers and babes in swim suits - - and high school marching bands.

Nowadays, the buxom babes are scarce, the floats are much more creative and intricately crafted - - and there are still endless processions of high school marching bands.

By the way - the floats are all decorated with real flowers, plants, spices, and things such as beans, bark, and seeds.

Truth to tell, I was never particularly fond of parades, but I watched the Rose Parade Monday morning on KTLA live-stream - and a rush of California memories overtook me.

 Tournament of Roses Parade in 1917

A few floats from the 2017 parade

"Real California Milk"
the California Milk Advisory Board

"Prosperity in the Wild"
sponsored by the Western Asset Management Company 


The Surfing Dogs Float 
Sponsored by the Lucy Pet Foundation
is the longest, heaviest float in parade history.
126 feet long, with an 8,000 gallon tank of water, a total weight of 74 tons. And eight surfing dogs.

Truthfully, I don't know how the driver of the float ever made that perilous turn - - since he can't see where he's navigating. He has to rely solely on computer technology and the guidance of "spotters" stationed on the float.



Simmered in Tradition
sponsored by Ragu




 When the Cat's Away, the Mice Play
One of my personal favorite floats, sponsored by the city of Sierra Madre. I liked the revolving stack of tea cups. But I can't figure out why there are two Alice in Wonderlands on the float.

Okay, it's time for a confession:
This post was never intended to be solely about the Rose Parade. I got completely side-tracked.

I had planned on writing about my memories of winter in Southern California. Since this post is already annoyingly long, I'll save my initial intentions until next time.

I'm sure you'll be waiting with breathless anticipation..... 

BTW -
The Blogger Gremlins have been screwing up my attempts to center these photos properly and put the captions underneath them. Blame Blogger for any errors that you see.


21 comments:

  1. Wonderful floats! Like a parade of island-worlds. Maybe Sierra Madre's tableau has 2 Alices in recognition of Carroll's 2nd story "Through The Looking Glass".

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    1. That's a very plausible explanation. I thought perhaps they were rivals for the part, and I was expecting a fist-fight - or a hair-pulling match - to ensue.

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  2. My parents had friends who lived on a side street about 1/2 block from Colorado Blvd. We would park at their home and walk to the parade route. My parents would never let me help decorate the floats or spend the night camped out on Colorado. There were torrential rains the one year I was going to do it after I had my own place. I can't fathom now why I wanted to spend the night freezing on concrete. Several floats would be parked on a lot adjacent to Pasadena High School and it was kind of sad to see them deteriorate over time.

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    1. That's interesting - - I was never very familiar with Pasadena. I remember going to see the floats after the parade once with my parents. To me, it was depressing to see all the rapidly wilting flowers. It seemed like a float graveyard.

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  3. I wonder if my bulldog would do that?

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    1. Your bulldog would love to surf!

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  4. I've always enjoyed seeing the floats in the Rose Bowl parade, but we missed it this year. I looked for it on Sunday, and it wasn't there, as you know, and by the time I realized it was on Monday afternoon, it was already over. Oh well. Next year.

    I don't know if I'd be industrious enough to actually work on one of those floats, but I would have loved to see them up close and personal. They look terrific on TV, but it'd be great to be able to admire the details and workmanship in person.

    Happy New Year, cowboy!

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    1. I think a lot of people missed the parade, because they thought it would be on Sunday. Working on those floats is a lot of trouble - an enormous amount of meticulous care goes into it.

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  5. We, too, looked for the Parade on Sunday; thought perhaps it was rained out, then promptly forgot about it! Back in '65 my parents drove straight through from Los Alamos (NM) to my aunt's place in La Crescents so we could watch the Parade. (I remember being cold and largely underwhelmed.) Those images you've chosen are amazinging!

    Btw, my computer passed away last eve, so my presence in blogland may be hit and miss. (...an apt description for my trying to type on my e-reader.)

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    1. I appreciate the parade a lot more now than I did as a child. Much like you, I was underwhelmed. I actually think it has gotten better over the years - especially the designs of the floats. You could probably catch a re-run of the parade of YouTube.

      I'm sorry to hear about the demise of your computer - believe me, I feel your pain.

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  6. I love watching parades. Never saw this one but have in San Antonio and worked on plenty in my hometown in high school.

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    1. Hometown parades are often the most fun - especially if you're involved with the work on them.

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  7. It is funny you posted this. I was just wondering the other day if this parade still existed. I used to watch it when I was younger, but the last 5 years or so, they don't televise it here anymore, and don't seem to hear anyone mentioning it. So glad they still do it. I remembered the floats were always very stunning.

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    1. I don't think they missed presenting a Rose Parade in 128 years (undoubtedly because the weather is usually very agreeable). It is such a huge event in California. I hadn't realized - until I moved away - that it's not quite as popular in other places.

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  8. Watched the parade here too. Have to admit the surfing dogs made my day. Love your vintage tales of the parade.

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    1. I'm glad you got to see it - - and I'm glad I remembered it was on Monday. That surfing dog float was really amazing - I've never seen anything like it before (although I heard that those surfing dogs have appeared in other parades).

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  9. We don't have many parades around here - at least not anything this elaborate. The floats are stunning !

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    1. The Rose Parade consistently has the best floats anywhere - and they really do seem to get better every year. It's just a shame that all those beautiful flowers will perish in a few days.

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  10. Jon,
    I used to watch the Rose Parade every year but it's been years since I watched. I think I stopped because of all the commercials on TV. My high school band marched in the parade in the year 2000. I sponsored one of the band member's trip and was surprised to get a personal "thank you" note, which I thought was very nice. Oh how I would have liked to have someone sponsor me when I was in the same marching band in the late 50's.
    Ron

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    1. That was so generous of you to sponsor a band member, Ron - I'm sure it created a lifelong memory for that student. It's a shame that you didn't get a sponsor when you were in the band. I can't remember anyone being sponsored when I was a student, either.

      I suppose I watch the parade nowadays simply because it brings back so many memories...

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  11. You would probably be aghast but I think I've only watched this parade once or twice in my 65 years. Not much one for parades. I've probably only seen the Macy's parade a couple times, too, on TV. I found them rather boring, to be honest. Was when I was a kid because my dad liked them and it was back in the day when you had one TV and dad ruled. No TV remotes--us kids had to get up and change the channel--LOL! ;)

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