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A Mini Red Wagon Rose Parade Brightens New Year's Day

A small flotilla of red wagon floats made their way down Orange Grove Boulevard on New Year's Day 2021. The traditional parade, viewed by millions around the world, was cancelled for only the fourth time since it began in 1891. Mariana Dale/LAist
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The 2021 Rose Parade was canceled, but you could still find signs of the New Year’s Day tradition in Pasadena.

There’s a floral sculpture (think parade float without wheels) celebrating organ donors and healthcare professionals outside the Wrigley Mansion.

And on New Year's Day, at around 8 a.m., dozens of classic cars cruised Orange Grove Boulevard with roses fastened to their rearview mirrors.

Evelyn Perez and Maria Esquede wave at passers by on the corner of Colorado and Orange Grove along the Rose Parade route. They came out with a small display because they have been coming to the parade for over 20 years seeing the parade and didn't want to miss it this year. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)
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On the sidewalk, would-be float decorators wearing masks pulled three red wagons, each with 150 roses, yellow strawflower petal stars and the words "dream," "believe" and "achieve" sprouting from the foliage.

"All the same natural decoration that you would find at the parade, no matter what," says Leslie Foxvog.

She’s a decoration manager for Artistic Entertainment Services and has worked on the Rose Parade for more than 45 years. The other wagons represented fellow float builders.

“I could not imagine not being here, and being able to provide some part of the celebration, I really missed it,” Foxvog said.

The decision not to hold the Rose Parade was made more than five months ago, as organizers recognized an event that typically draws massive crowds — including people who camp out to secure prime spots — was not tenable during a pandemic. It marks only the fourth time since the parade began in 1891 that it was not held. The other cancellations took place during World War II.

Today’s mini parade stopped frequently so people could take pictures or ask about the flowers.

A Pasadena fire truck honked in recognition.

“As small as these are, it's brought a lot of happiness to people today,” said fellow decorator Andrea Zepeda.

Before they continued on their way, Foxvog plucked a pink rose from her wagon and handed it to me.

“These are the most fragrant ones today,” she said.

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I thanked her and we waved goodbye.

“Happy New Year!”

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