” For painting my roses red someone will lose his head.” – Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Today we attended The Tournament of Roses, one of many Pasadena traditions we are excited to be a part of! I had anticipated an unruly crowd comprised of hangovers and sleep-deprived campers. The hard core spectators set up along the parade route the day before and prepared to camp out until the next morning. By 4:00 pm campers could be seen lining the sidewalks of Colorado Blvd. Blow up mattresses, space heaters, fire pits and even TVs could be seen throughout the campsites, some more primitive than others. As we barhopped on New Years Eve, we passed by the diehards and anticipated the events to come. Of course, we enjoyed a night’s rest from our warm and comfy bed.

The next morning we hopped in a cab and headed for Old Town. We found a spot on one of the corners and got situated. As vertically challenged as I am, visibility is always a concern when it comes to parades. I found a little nook in between a small asian woman and a little boy who had been camped out in his pop up chair. If I stood a little to my right and tip-toed up on my left foot I could see just enough of the parade route. The weather was perfect and the crowds were surprisingly peppy.

Soon enough the white vespas were paving the way for the floats. Each float was unique and vibrant. The skill and precision it must have taken to create these masterpieces is beyond my comprehension. Roses of all colors covered the floats from top to bottom. The theme was Dreams Come True and each float possessed a magical quality that couldn’t quite be explained. From dogs to spaceships to mythical characters every float took you to another place and embodied the theme magnificently.

A few highlights were of course the Seaworld float that was escorted by police while a SWAT team monitored the activity in the crowds as the float passed by. With the recent documentary Blackfish, many are outraged by the treatment of the animals at the well-known theme park. PETA petitioners could be seen carrying signs and encouraging spectators to join in their cause. Needless to say, the float passed by unscathed and a few even managed to muster up an applause for the nervous looking float riders representing the theme park giant.

The other highlight was the AIDS awareness float. It had been announced that two gay men would have their wedding ceremony performed atop the float. There had been such controversy over the ceremony that people were actually boycotting. Some had gone far enough to create a Facebook page encouraging others to boycott. Naturally, a rival page was created for those in support. There had been such a fuss with people claiming the parade was being ruined and corrupted and they would not allow their family to be a part of it. By the time the float came by, it was nothing more than two men and a woman, assumed to be the officiant, waving from the top of a giant cake. Hoping for more kindness and tolerance in 2014.

Before we knew it the giant football float made its way along the route, signifying the finale. The crowd cheered and started to disburse. The parade had been everything I had expected and more. It was definitely a great way to spend the first day of the new year. Until next year!

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