The past four days of programs and activities have been building to this day when we will have the honor of viewing what Dr. Tommy Cairns calls “a living museum to one of nature’s greatest triumphs—the rose.” In other words, we are going to the Rose Parade!
We are up at 4:45, and aboard our bus to the parade at 6:15. We have to leave early, because the traffic is even worse than normal--a million people are wending their way to the parade route, and lots of streets are closed.
Our seats are in bleachers about three miles into the five mile parade route. We don’t have high expectations for the bands and other performers, figuring that by the time they get to us they will be pretty pooped. We underestimate them. The band members are strutting, cheer leaders are tossing each other into the air, and the drill teams are dancing and spinning their flags with gusto and huge smiles. When we see the television coverage later in the day, it doesn’t seem as if they did anything for the cameras that they didn’t do for us.
Our Road Scholar group reserved a large section of the bleachers, and each of our teams who worked on floats together sat together. As the floats that the different teams worked on passed, we cheered loud and long for “our” floats. Imagine our excitement when we saw that our Chinese Airline dragon float won the International Trophy for the most beautiful float from outside the United States.
The long anticipated heavily hyped huge float with the surfing dogs was a disappointment, not only because we never saw a dog surf while it was passing, but also because its big tank on top surrounded by plexiglass made for an ugly float. When we watched the parade replay on the big screen during lunch, we saw that the dogs would not surf for the television cameras either. Dr. Cairns predicted this one would have technical difficulties, and he was right. He also predicted that it would get a major trophy, and he was right about that, too. This was the only float where we would disagree with the judges’ judgment. Paraphrasing Dr. Cairns’ first principle of floats, this is a flower parade, not a dog parade.
That said, the parade was an extraordinary display of pageantry and beauty. Here are just a few more of our favorite sights from the parade.