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Follow me down to the Rose Parade

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We're not sure how it happens, but every year the Rose Parade is packed. Assigned seating is already gone, and the sidewalks will be filled by the hardy souls who camp out overnight -- this year on January 1, 2006, because the spectacle will be on display Monday January 2.

While it seems like the kind of thing your grandparents watch on TV, the floats are actually pretty cool. They smell amazing. They really are covered with roses -- and other flowers, and bark, and grass. Every inch of each float must be covered with natural material, no plastic or synthetics. They say each float uses more flowers than a single florist will go through in five years.

You can get up close and personal with the floats -- without camping out or anything -- and check them out behind the scenes, while they're being decorated by hundreds of volunteers. For $5 you can go twice, anytime over three days: 9am-6pm on the 30th, 11am-6pm on the 31st or 11am-1pm on the 1st. There are four float-building locations to choose from, which presents a dizzying combo of places and times for your float encounters.

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If you only want to see the finished product, tickets are $7 for the post-parade show, which will involve a lot of walking and crowds. Or you could just sit with your grandparents and watch it on TV.

Photo by Jaime Haire via Flickr