Painting the (Tournament of) Roses Red

Ten seconds until the clock strikes midnight, the ball is dropping before your eyes, and then you start hearing everyone shout “Happy New Year!”. It’s the beginning to a new year, everyone is celebrating and the drinks are flowing, ready to kick off the rest of the party. Well… not for you, because you have to go camp out on Colorado Boulevard in Beautiful Old Town Pasadena, Ca.

Now why would a normally sane person want to do this on New Year’s Day? Why would someone want to subject themselves to living on the street for the night? What could possibly be better than celebrating new year’s eve until the crack of dawn and then sleeping until lunch?

Because of the Tournament of Roses annual Rose Parade, of course. A one hundred and twenty-eight year old tradition that is so popular, so grandiose, that it has become a worldwide broadcasted event. Floats for different cities, sponsored floats by big companies, floats from various charities and civic groups, marching bands, dancers, horse riders, Shriners in their cute little fez hats… You get the picture.

As a kid, my grandfather loved watching this parade on television. Every year he would watch the live broadcast (Because no commercials) and then he would wake me up and we would watch the rebroadcast together. Even after I left home, it was still a tradition I hold onto dearly. This year as I was watching the parade pass by on the television, I found myself wishing I could watch it with him one last time. (Ok…well…. that took an emotional turn no one was expecting… Anyways…)

I just don’t find myself willing to give up the time to scope out a spot for hours or (god help me) sleep on the street, especially when the event is broadcasted multiple times on basic cable. I guess you could say that I’m not the kind of person who enjoys sitting out in the cold,trying to enjoy the floats while they go by, mindlessly just watching for the sake of seeing pretty things go in and out of my field of vision. While also watching the 15th marching band go by playing yet another rendition of “Don’t Stop Believing” or “Hang on Sloopy”. The entire time being simultaneously harassed by my hellspawn (I mean) two year old who’s mad that the tablet finally kicked the bucket after watching the same episode of Sesame Street that he’s currently obsessed with on repeat for the past 3 hours.

Yes you can buy the programs, and spend most of your time looking down at the damn thing while the parade keeps marching along. And yes, there are stands that you can buy seats in that you don’t have to camp out for. But they can be pricey if you’re buying them for your entire family, plus you still have to be there at dawn to park and check in. Pretty much this is a long process. Personally, just not my thing.


BUT what is so great about this parade, is that you can actually get up close a personal with the floats after the parade is over.And that my friends, is my thing.

Once the Rose Parade ends, the floats are transported to a viewing area for what is called the Showcase of Floats and is it’s own event all together. It’s relatively inexpensive: $13 per person (ages 5 and under are free), there were concession stands throughout the showcase, and mobile restrooms were plentiful. Plus they even offer complimentary shuttles if you had parked your vehicle in the parade parking earlier that day. The entire showcase spans over 2 miles and is just flooded with onlookers, wanting to get a more immersive experience with these beautifully crafted pieces.

What I find most interesting about these floats, is that a good majority of them are not only decorated by volunteers, but are also designed and engineered by volunteers. The float in the bottom right corner of this collage^^^ that’s a working miniature roller coaster! How freaking cool is that???? The serious craftsmanship that goes into creating this event is absolutely astonishing. I love being able to look at the close up and see the thousands, upon thousands, of flowers used to create the beautiful scenes. Truly it’s just amazing to see what people come up with, year after year, for these floats.

Since of course they are made out of flowers, the floats are only displayed until the day after the Rose Parade itself. But if you are in Southern California celebrating the new year, this is definitely something that you should plan on doing at least once.

If you would like any more information about the Rose Parade or the post parade activities click here to go directly to the Tournament of Roses Official website.

Remember Folks, anyone can travel, you don’t have to travel far to start getting out there and discovering new things. It’s the little bits of traveling, even in our hometowns or to an event in a nearby city that make some of the best memories.


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