The 126th Rose Parade featured fantastic floats on a chilly day in Pasadena. There were hundreds of thousands of people lining the streets along the route, despite the fact that it was one of the coldest Rose Parades on record. The crowds did not let the chilly weather get them down, admiring the lovely flower-covered floats and amazing bands as they kept warm under blankets, wearing layers of clothes, sipping coffee and hot chocolate.
The overall theme of the Rose Parade was “Inspiring Stories,” and the Grand Marshal was supposed to be the World War II prisoner of war and Olympic runner, Louis Zamperini, but he passed away two months ago at the age of 97. His memory was honored by having the USC’s mascot, the white horse Traveler, walking the 5½-mile parade route down Colorado Boulevard riderless. Also, the grand marshal’s car had Zamperini’s family in it, serving in place of the war veteran and hero.
A native of Torrance, California, Zamperini’s life was written about in the book Unbroken. Also, the story of his life was depicted in the Angelina Jolie-directed movie of the same name, which hit theaters in December. The city of Torrance honored his memory with a float.
The two-hour-long Rose Parade takes place every year on New Year’s Day, before the Rose Bowl football game that occurs later that night. This year, the float judges were Els Hazenberg, Steven Wood Schmader and Eddie Zaratsian.
The flower and seed-covered floats ranged from a Hawaiian-themed one complete with a volcano that spit out flames to one titled “Cradle of Civilization,” created by the American Armenian Rose Float Association. Altogether, there were 39 floats in the Rose Parade, highlighting popular culture, celebrities and important people from America’s history.
Though the temperature at the beginning of the Rose Parade were just slightly above freezing, at 36 degrees, it did not break the record set of 32 degrees in 1952. The University of Southern California mascot, Tommy Trojan, reportedly wore a coat over his armor before the Rose Parade started in an effort to stay warm. Spectators attending the parade came up with ways to stay as warm as possible, dancing in place, doing jumping jacks, or staying as close as possible to a fire pit that was being used by a local restaurant to cook shish kebobs.
The Rose Parade was marred, in part, by the arrests of seven people who were taken into custody when they allegedly attempted to interfere with the parade. According to Pasadena police Lt. Marie Sell, two groups of protesters who carried signs were involved in attempting to disrupt the Rose Parade, with one of the groups close to the start of the route and the other one somewhat further to the east.
Four of the people who were arrested carried signs that contained messages about Ezell Ford, who was 25 in August when he was shot and killed by a Los Angeles Police Department officer. No details have yet been released about the other people who were arrested, though Sell said that six of them will be cited before they are released.
The hundreds of thousands of Rose Parade attendees who braved the chilly temperatures on New Year’s Day were rewarded by getting to see some of the most fantastic and festive floats in the history of the parade, as well as viewing talented bands from across the United States. The 39 floats, designed to “elevate the human spirit,” by showcasing the theme of “Inspiring Stories,” inspired lots of “oohs” and “aahs,” from the spectators gathered along the parade route, as well as from viewers watching their TVs at home.
Written By: Douglas Cobb