Led by a spectacular opening street show, the 128th annual Rose Parade was nearly flawless as is passed down Colorado Boulevard under cloudy skies and watchful eyes Monday.
Hundreds of thousands of fans braved occasional light pre-dawn rain, and reveled in the relatively-warm 50-degree air. The 5 1/2-mile parade route was the subject of extra security, including water-filled obstacles at 52 intersections designed to thwart any high speed vehicle attacks.
The parade began with the customary Air Force B-2 Stealth bomber flyover. The marching bands, horse units and floats were positioned on Orange Grove Boulevard, ready to make the tight turn east at Colorado Boulevard as the parade kicked off at 8 a.m.
A float with waterfalls, a princess with fiery hands and a working volcano, dedicated to “The Spirit of Hawaii,” won one of the top awards at the 2017 Rose Parade. The Sweepstakes Award went to Dole Packaged Foods, for its homage to Hawaii.
The float had one of the largest portable waterfalls to ever make its way through Pasadena.
And the longest, heaviest float to ever lumber down Colorado Boulevard made the tight turn at Orange Grove Boulevard without incident. The Lucy Pet float featured a block-long tank and surfing dogs, and the crowd roared as the first bulldog “hung 20” down the boulevard, as one anchor put it.
“Lucy Pet’s Gnarly Crankin’ K-9 Wave Maker” won the Extraordinaire Trophy, and set records with its 126-foot length and 148,000 pounds worth of water, flowers and wet dogs.
Four “self-built” floats won prizes this year, including the Cal Poly Universities’ “A New Leaf,” which won the Founders’ Award for most-beautiful float built by volunteers, and the Downey Rose Float Association, which won the Governor’s Award for its float, “The Gold Rush,” and its depiction of life in California.
The humorous “Backyard Rocketeer” float made by volunteers in La Canada-Flintridge won the Bob Hope Humor Award. And the Sierra Madre Rose Float Association’s “The Cat’s Away” won the Mayor’s Trophy for best city entry.
Other winners announced just before the parade’s start included a group of surfing dogs on the Lucy Pet float, winner of the Extraordinaire Float.
The only visible miscue was a working roller coaster aboard one float, which apparently did not work before the TV cameras.
On the streets of Pasadena, large obstacles blocked the 56 cross streets along the parade route, to prevent any possible large-scale disruptions similar to the terrorist attacks in Berlin and France last year.
Pasadena police, the U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement were on the streets.
Bomb-sniffing dogs, a “no drone zone” and barricades blocking vehicle traffic from entering the parade route at its 56 intersections are all part of the security plan.
Water barricades will be used to prevent any vehicle from being able to travel at high speeds leading up to the parade route. Police have learned through the France and Germany truck attacks that when terrorists “use vehicles as a ramming tool, typically it is because they are able to generate a lot of speed. So we are tying to take the speed out of that equation,” Pasadena Police Chief Phillip L. Sanchez said.
A trio of Olympic gold medalists — Allyson Felix, Greg Louganis and Janet Evans — served as grand marshals of the parade.
Temple City High School senior Victoria Cecilia Castellanos, 17, reigned as this year’s Rose Queen, aboard a special float with the six princesses on the Royal Court. They are Maya Khan, 18, Arcadia High School; Natalie Petrosian, 17, La Canada High School; Audrey Cameron, 17, Blair High School; Autumn Lundy, 17, Polytechnic School; Lauren Powers, 17, Arcadia High School; and Shannon Larsuel, 17, Mayfield Senior School.
Riding on a float sponsored by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation were three survivors of the mass shooting inside the Pulse nightclub in Orlando that left 49 people dead and 53 wounded. The float, titled “To Honor and Remember Orlando,” will be a tribute to those who were killed in the June 12 shooting.
The float featured a giant dove soaring over a field of 49 white stars representing each of the victims of the shooting, and a colorful rainbow representing “the diversity of the LGBTQ community” and symbolizing “the humanity of all victims killed or injured.”
The float will also feature a “Tree of Life” with condolence notes left on a communal board in Orlando. During the parade, 49 white doves were released from the float, twice.
Riding on the float were three survivors of the attack — Victor Baez Febo, Isaiah Henderson and Jahqui Sevilla, whose boyfriend was killed in the attack on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.
The parade again featured a float sponsored by the ABC series “The Bachelor,” along with one sponsored by the National Hockey League and the traditional Donate Life float dedicated to organ donors and recipients.
Marching bands from across the country marched, along with the Gifusho Green Band from Gifu, Japan. The Los Angeles Unified School District’s All District High School Honor Band also made its annual appearance in the procession.
Once the last parade reaches the eastern terminus, at noon, the floats will be on display until Tuesday at the Showcase of Floats at Sierra Madre and Washington boulevards.
—City News Service
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