Rose Parade Roars Back After First Cancellation Since World War II
Saturday’s parade represents a long-awaited return to the Pasadena New Year’s tradition.
The Rose Parade is presented each year by the nonprofit Tournament of Roses Association, which also hosts the Rose Bowl football game. The 2021 parade was canceled due to pandemic restrictions on crowds. (However, last year’s Rose Bowl game was played in Arlington, Texas, far from its traditional location at the Rose Bowl Stadium.)
The parade theme, “Dream, Believe, Achieve” and most of the participants who had intended to march in the canceled 2021 parade rolled over to this year’s event. Many of the parade floats were tributes to the medical professionals, teachers and others who have worked on the hazardous front lines of the pandemic.
Even with a dearth of volunteers, this year's floats still went all out, with jungle scenes, a girl riding a jet pack and the biggest chicken you've ever seen in your life.
Rebecca Litteral worked on the California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo animated float. A take on the "Hey Diddle Diddle" nursery rhyme, "Stargrazers" features cows welding a machine that will get them over the moon.
"I learned a lot, did a lot of different things that I typically wouldn't get to do," Litteral said, "I've been super excited to go play with this amazing group of people."
She also invited her mom, Susan, to help on the project.
"I grew up in Southern California," Susan said, "It was always a bucket list dream to work on a float."
Many of the bands played on, including those from Pasadena City College, Los Angeles Unified School District and one of this year's most logistically challenged groups, the Band Directors Marching Band. The parade went without its traditional selection of bands from outside North America due to travel restrictions.
A Packed Parade, In Some Places
Not as many people spent their entire night staking out seats this year as in previous years — Saturday morning's early birds still nabbed choice locations along the parade route.
In previous years, Paul Duran of Alhambra has had to camp out for two nights to get a good spot. This year he got prime seats in the telecast area with relative ease and an assist from his son.
We've been closed down for so long and we feel good about being here today.
The 5.5-mile route turns onto Colorado Blvd. where most TV coverage originates, and then heads east and turns onto Sierra Madre Blvd., passing under the 210 Freeway. While plenty of people helped fill up much of the main telecast area — which has 40,000 seats — the crowd thinned out along the rest of the route.
Gail Taylor, a former Pasadena City College educator, lives in West Virginia and traveled here to join family at the parade. She said the crowd is thinner than she had ever seen it.
But parade attendees said they're confident about their decision, thanks to masks, booster shots and being outdoors.
"We're long-term Pasadena residents and this is what we live for," said Crystal Canton, who attended with her family. "We've been closed down for so long and we feel good about being here today."
The flower-covered floats will be on display at the ticketed event known as Floatfest on Sierra Madre Blvd near Washington Blvd.
The parade leads into the 108th playing of the Rose Bowl football game, a matchup between The Ohio State University Buckeyes versus the University of Utah Utes.
The annual parade through Pasadena returned after the COVID-19 pandemic caused a one-year hiatus. It featured many of the traditional trappings even if the crowd was on the lighter side.