The initial reason for my visit to Los Angeles over New Years was the Tournament of Roses. I can’t tell you exactly why, but for a number of years, I’ve pegged the Rose Parade as a “Life Goal.” When a friend from Vevey moved to LA after his assignment in Switzerland and purchased a condo on the parade route, I knew it was time to make the goal a reality. His HOA puts a grand stand in the front yard and sells tickets to the public. (Originally, I imagined this to be a few rows of bleachers, but in reality, it’s a two-story grand stand!) They get a couple of tickets to use, and they were kind enough to share one with me!
Before I bombard you with photos of nearly every float, I will just say that the craftsmanship of these floats is UNBELIEVABLE!!!! Everything float is covered / decorated entirely using seeds, flowers, leaves, etc. Everything. Even the floats that have images that look like a picture. Nope. Also made completely of natural products. They estimate that there are about 3,000 man hours behind every float. AND almost all of the flowers are adhered by “petal pushers” in the final hours before the parade. (The heartier flowers may be applied 7-10 days before the parade, but all of the roses and delicate flowers go on 1-3 days before the start.) Volunteers make this whole thing possible, which is incredible.
The tradition of the Tournament of Roses is that it happens on January 1, but never on a Sunday. The parade has taken place in Pasadena for more than 100 years, so it is definitely a tradition in the community. So much so that when we went out to walk around at 10:00pm, it seemed like EVERYBODY in Pasadena was out doing the same thing. Some of the streets are already closed at that time, they are beginning to line up the floats, and many people are setting up their campsites along the parade route. Literally, we saw everything from air mattresses, hammocks, tv’s set up in wagons, grills, etc. This clearly wasn’t their first rodeo! These were experienced Rose Parade campout professionals! I was amazed!
The next morning, we work up to the sound of people bustling around outside and marching bands beginning to practice. We bundled up and went to sit outside in the first row of the grand stands. Such amazing seats!! I think I took a picture of almost every, single float. I couldn’t resist!!! They were all incredible! You won’t be able to see every detail from these photos, but keep in mind that each float is made entirely of flowers, seeds, etc.
[The Wells Fargo wagons!]
[I think this was our favorite of the marching bands!]
[There were SO MANY horses in the parade!!]
[The volcano on the “Spirit of Hawaii” / Dole float was literally spewing fire and smoke!]
[US Women’s Olympic Volleyball team was on this float!]
[Penn State was playing University of Southern California (USC) in the Rose Bowl.]
[Here come the USC Trojans…]
[This float broke the Guinness World Book of Records for being the longest float! The main attractions on this float were the surging dogs!]
[SO MANY horses were pulling these wagons!]
[So many of these floats had pieces or parts that were moving, like these mice who are wreaking havoc on the tea party!]
[The Budweiser Clydesdales made an appearance!! Made me feel like I was back in St. Louis!]
[I don’t think these airplanes were made of flowers, but they were pretty awesome!]
[J’adore Le Petit Prince!]
[The story of the Tortoise and the Hare is such a classic!]
Sadly, I couldn’t find a reasonably priced ticket for the Rose Bowl, so I had to skip it. Having USC as one of the teams was a bummer, because it made it a home game for all of the fans living in Southern California. My hosts went and said it was awesome. Thankfully, I got to spend some time with Vevey friends in the afternoon who were on their home leave from Switzerland. We forgot to take a picture together, but it was fun catching up with them.
The next day, we went to see the floats up close. They park all of them in the Pasadena High School parking lot. It was so amazing to see all of the detail. I could’ve taken dozens more photos, but I refrained – capturing just enough for you to see the intricate work.
[Look at how all of the gold on the logo is coming from individual corn kernels!! Who had the patience for gluing all of those so perfectly?!]
[Look at the detail of his outfit! I especially love his argyle socks!]
[Look at the detail on the tortoise shell! Isn’t that magnificent?!]
[I get so excited when completing a goal!]
We spent the balance of the afternoon at the Getty Center. I’ve been here before, so it was mostly a pit stop on the way to the airport. The parking garage was CRAZY, so we only had about an hour to walk around. The gardens or beautiful, and I loved seeing Van Gogh’s Irises.
It was a quick New Years trip to LA, but such a great visit. Several wonderful friends coupled with some amazing sites and experiences!