Tournament of Roses Parade

There was two parts to this experience.  The parade itself and the 24 hours camped on the street to get a good seat.  You can reserve a seat in the bleachers but the street experience must be done at least once.

We arrived at 11:00 a.m. on the 31st of December.  We had reserved a place to park our truck and trailer just one block off of the parade route, Colorado Street.  While I waited my turn to get the trailer into position Cheryl, her mom and the kids took off to find a place on the street.  The rules are that you can not claim a space until noon the day before the parade.  Although we were an hour early, Cheryl walked three blocks to find one of the last available spaces. The front row goes fast.  If you want to sit in the second row along the street you can arrive about four hours before the parade starts.

Cheryl's mom came down the day before to join us for the parade, but due to a family emergency had to fly back to Everett Wa.  right away.  So after unhitching the trailer I drove her to the airport and left Cheryl to sit on the sidewalk.

The twenty-four hours actually went pretty fast.  The longest part was from 4:30 a.m. until 7:00 in the morning.  We met several people where we were sitting.  Armando and Kim, (he's in the foreground of the picture), bought the first three pizzas from NY Pizza.

Barb and her kids are sitting just behind us Click this link for another shot of them.  They are the ones we met up with two days later when our truck broke down.

Don and Becky, (not in the first picture), were was very informative.  Don, seen here, thinks this was his 38th time at the parade. 

He provided many tips and explained what to expect throughout the day.  At midnight everyone can move from the curb to a blue line that's painted on the street about six feet from the curb. He suggested that we stay alert after 11:30 to protect our claimed property.

As the night went on, the sidewalk behind us had only enough room for a single line of people to walk. Many people moved from the sidewalk onto the street and the police insisted they move back onto the side walk.  This results in them stepping over everyone's stuff like sleeping bags, ice chest, pizza boxes, etc.  It worked best to carve out a small trial for these people to return to the sidewalk, but you have to watch out that the people on the other side of the trail don't stretch their elbows and slowly acquire the trail as their space. (This is not an evening that we'd recommend for the timid or really tidy type).

As the night goes on the marshmallows, tortillas and silly string come out.  No, not for dinner ...It's War!  A long Rose Parade tradition, we were told, is to fling these things at each other, people across the street, or any likely target.  They throw the marshmallows and corn tortillas at the cars, someone they think is cute, or (in our kid's case), the next-door-neighbors and at each other.  The police don't do too much about the marshmallows, but go after the tortillas quickly.  I imagine that if a tortilla is flying along like a Frisbee it could hurt.  If you really want to get the attention of the police throw and egg or squirt some mustard.

Then there was also the silly string.  Cans of stuff that look like colored spray-insulation. As it sprays out of the can, it turns into a solid foam-like substance.  I think every kid there must have sprayed five or more cans of the stuff.  Street vendors were walking up and down selling the stuff.  By nine o'clock that night the police start to restrict the silly string and marshmallows.  I think they want to keep the crowd under a certain level of control.  There were one or two fights but several officers would take charge of the scene instantly.  Every police, and sheriff in the area was on mandatory assignment that night.

As the countdown to 1999 began we had our champagne ready.  However, we had other matters to tend to first.  As everyone counts down, " ... ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five .....", the massive, rush to the infamous blue line is underway.  Everyone hustles their chairs and sleeping bags to the line before anyone can get in front of them, then, ".... four, three, two, one, HAPPY NEW YEAR"!!!  After adjusting our chairs and cooperating with the others around us, it was time to pour a glass and toast the New Year. 

We took turns watching our space.  Sometimes the kids would stay, or our new friends would watch for us.  We could then walk around and look at the crowds, go back for supplies to the trailer and get a bite to eat.  Cheryl and I walked up the street to the large bleachers and network television stands.  It is quite the thing to see what this community does every year.  I bet that next year being 2000 and all, it will be quite the event.

I made a final trip back to the trailer about 1:45 AM.  On the way back, I picked up another pizza, but when I got back just about everyone around was asleep. So I shared it with some kids that were sitting a little farther down.  It got pretty cold that night making it difficult to sleep, but I did get about fifteen minutes.  Cheryl went back to the trailer, but also found it difficult to warm up, so she came back out about 5:30.  At 7:00AM I went back to the trailer, and  after a shower, shave, and fresh set of clothes I was feeling pretty good again.

It gets pretty crowded just before the parade starts.  If you sit in the front row its difficult to get through the crowd to go anywhere.  Even the cross streets are blocked off with people sitting across the row.

The parade itself is spectacular.  watching it on television is no substitute.  The floats are very impressive and the roses and other natural plants used to decorate them can't be described.

It is obvious that there are many hours of work that go into these floats.  California had an out-of-the-ordinary freeze just two weeks ago.  This meant that many more of the flowers had to come from South America.  Don, (the fellow who had been to the parade 38 times), said there were many last minute shipments in order to complete the float that he helped decorate.

Here's one Ed especially liked.  It was voted best city entry.  It was from Portland Oregon.

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