Since this was my first Christmas and New Years in Southern California, I figured I should participate in an annual SoCal New Year’s Day tradition, the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena. I have watched the parade on television since I was a child and this would be my first experience with the live, in-person parade viewing experience. My California sister goes every year so she served as my tour guide.
For most parade-goers, camping out for premiere spots along the parade route on Colorado seems to be the norm. There were campers, tents, even inflatable beds lining the streets of downtown Pasadena. But according to my California sister, there is a better tradition among the locals that allows you to sleep in and catch the beginning of the parade on TV.
Around 9am, we left our Altadena homestead and drove down a few blocks to a nearby neighborhood. We then walked over to Sierre Madre Blvd and made our way to an area that serves as the last block or so of the parade route. When we arrived, People were still setting up lawn chairs. The parade officially began at 8am but we managed to get settled just in time for the start of the parade in this particular area. So even though it was packed and there were some “turf” battles going on, I was happy being in a less chaotic area than the main parade viewing area on Colorado.
Being at the end of the route actually turned out to be a great idea. We saw every float pass by, every band perform, and all the countless others involved in the parade (including the pooper scoopers who we cheered for every time a group of horses passed by). It was amazing how some of the bands even picked up a little momentum realizing they only had to march for one more block.
And of course it was amazing to see the Grand Marshall, Dr. Jane Goodall. This wasn’t the first time I had seen Dr. Goodall in person. I met her back during my days at USC when I took an anthropological class where she came to speak. We read her books and watched countless videos of her research on Chimpanzees. She looked amazing and is just as inspiring as ever. In fact, she even inspired me to watch her most recent documentary on Netflix, Jane’s Journey, when I returned home after the parade.
Overall, it was an awesome experience that I will never forget. I’m not sure if I could brave the crowds every year but it would be fun to go again using the same idea to start at the end of the parade route. Though my California sister did say that I should do the “camping out on Colorado” tradition at least once. We’ll see. I think that would be something that would be a lot more fun if I could convince friends to do it with me, a little creepy if I do it alone. But who knows what the future holds (besides a few hours to be spent on my parade pictures, which I will post as soon as I am done).