Ask the guy who attended the Rose Parade!

Despite my status as a 34-year resident of Southern California, I have only attended the Rose Parade once. And it was for more than 20 minutes, and more recently than 1960. To be exact, I was onsite at the Rose Parade last Saturday, January 1, 2005 for about 5 hours. If you have always wondered what it is like to attend the Rose Parade in person, now is your chance to ask someone what it was like. Fire away! :slight_smile:

Wow, that was quite the response! Rather than take the time to answer each of your questions individually, I will attempt to answer, collectively, the most Frequently Unasked Questions:

Officially named the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade, it is a traditional event held annually on January 1st in Pasadena, California since the late 19th century. The event is now a miles-long parade consisting of marching bands, equestrian groups and, most famous of all, beautiful floats that are required to be decorated entirely with plants. No artificial colors are allowed to be used.

My mother-in-law purchased 8 tickets, which gave us two parking spaces and 8 assigned seats in the temporary bleachers erected along the parade route. I wasn’t consulted beforehand, but it was something I always wanted to do, so I was happy that she did.

My wife, our two daughters (ages 5 and 9), my mother-in-law, and 3 of her cousins who are visiting us from Israel.

Well over 100,000 people attent this event annually. Tickets are expensive, and although you can attend the event free of charge, to do so essentially means parking a few miles away and camping out overnight on the sidewalk. I knew I wanted to do it someday, I just hadn’t yet found the motivation.

Hey, pal. Let’s not get personal. This is not the pit.

No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to die.

Did you crash the night before on the street? If not, you should have. It’s great drunken fun on the streets of Pasadena.

Agreed; the lawn chair route is the best way to go. I remember having a big bag of the miniature marshmellows, and we played a game of licking them and throwing them against the sides of passing limos to see if they would stick (not hard to do since the streets were so congested that they weren’t going very fast). We’d also try to throw the marshmellows into the open sunroofs.

A large group of us had pre-printed large placards with numbers (1-10), so the next morning, as each float, band, equestrian group, etc. passed by, we’d score them.

This was back when I was in high school (the 80s). I’m sure if I tried to do this now, I’d be irritated by the noise and the drinking and the loud music (I’m probably the world’s youngest crank :wink: ).

No, I did not. At 36, I find the idea of getting drunk and going to sleep on the sidewalk not nearly as appealing as I might have found it 15-20 years ago. My wife and kids would find it significantly less appealing than I.

It’s funny, but in the week leading up to New Year’s, when I told people I was going to the Parade, by far the number one question I was asked was “are you going to camp overnight there?”

In case anyone wants to see a few pix, here they are…

My friends and I drove down the “Marshmellow Route” in '97. We brought a Super Soaker with us, and when kids would throw stuff at us (some of them punks were throwing jujubees and pistachios), we’d soak 'em. :slight_smile:

Oh hey, maybe I should’ve asked a question too.

  1. Have you ever gone to the game itself?

Here’s my question:

Every year they make a big deal about how “X” is the tallest float in the parade that year and how it’s amazing because the float has to be able to collapse on itself to fit under some low power lines along the parade route.

Why in og’s name, if this parade has been around sine the 19th century, doesn’t the city pony up the money and run the powerlines under the street??!!
It seems like a no brainer to me.

No, I haven’t. Although I’m not particularly a fan of college football, going to a college bowl game is one of those things I have on my “to-do under the right circumstances” list.

This is a good question. Unfortunately, it was not something that was discussed at the Rose Parade itself nor in any of the promotional materials that I read. However, I have emailed the question to Pasadena Water & Power. If I receive a response I will post it here.

  1. Is it true that every float has to be covered in flora?

  2. How many roses were used in the parade?

  3. What kind of shoes was Clay Aiken wearing?

Can’t answer the other two, but unquestionably the best thing about seeing the parade in person (especially if you’re curbside; can’t speak for being in the bleachers) is that you see all the flora up close. TV can’t even come close to doing justice to the extraordinary achievement these floats are. Absolutely incredible in all the attention to detail given to the designs as well as the execution with all the flowers, grasses, seeds, etc.

The only real drawback is that you only see about 2/3 of the float, so some of the design elements on the other side of the street escape your attention.

And Happy Lendervedder, that’s a great story. I went on 1/1/88 so I suspect the auto masses picked up a few ideas since then. :slight_smile:

  1. According to the official Parade materials, “Every inch of the float must be covered with flowers or other natural materials, such as leaves, seeds, or bark.”

  2. Also from the offical materials, “each float is decorated with more flowers than the average florist will use in five years.” With 50 floats this year, my WAG is a million roses.

  3. I did take a picture of Clay, though it’s not one of the ones I posted. I’ll check it tonight and see if I can figure it out.
    We were pretty high up in the bleachers, but we had binoculars and I can attest that the attention to detail each float exhibited was astonishing.

Clay appears to have worn black cowboy boots.

It seems that way because you’re misremembering why they need to be able to collapse. It’s not power lines, it’s a freeway overpass.

Having seen the floats once (after the parade, in the public display area), I have to say they look a lot bigger (and more impressive) on teevee.

I assume if you were right up close to the floats that some of them would be fragrant. Can you tell from streetside if they are?

<nitpick>That’s not entirely accurate, says the lady who worked on the Target float in the Rose Parade in 1999. The floats’ frames are made up of chicken wire, wood, aluminum, and I suppose whatever else people can get their hands on, which is then covered by newspaper, canvas (or again, whatever have you) to give the float its shape. On our Target float, this covering was then painted, which I would consider “artificial.”

See, they paint them because flowers wilt. I was working on a snail’s antenna, the bulb of which was painted red. I was covering the red bulb completely with red carnations. However, as they day goes on (and as the days go on - they eventually park them at some location and you can go view them for a couple of days), the carnations will wilt. As they wilt, they won’t have the coverage they did when they were freshly applied. So you use the paint to color the background so that the design is still preserved.

It is true that the entire float must be covered with plant material. However, the background under that material is most likely painted so that the design still looks okay when the plants wilt.</nitpick>

That said, the floats are georgeous. Yes, they smell, and they smell quite wonderful. And it really is amazing the things people will come up with - how they use seeds and twigs and things you’d never think of to give texture and color. If you ever have the chance, I recommend going.

And yes, I went to the Rose Bowl that year. My Badgers were excellent. That, too, is an experience not to be missed.