Saturday, January 03, 2015

The Rose Parade And Rose Bowl Football Game Sure Signs Of A New Year

Yesterday was the 126th Tournament of Roses Parade and the 101st Rose Bowl college football game and they are the surest signs that the Christmas season is over and a new year has begun.
I live in Pasadena, California and I am a fan of both. However, I have never been to an actual Rose Bowl football game. That's on me bucket list.
The whole idea of a parade and football game was started by the local elite organization called the Valley Hunt Club in 1890. And within five years, the VHC could no longer handle the fact that the event became such a hit. The VHC could only do so much. In those days, however, there was no Rose Bowl football game. What they did was have such events as polo matches (remember, the VHC was the elite club of town then and now), foot races and tug-of-wars. Later there were chariot races, ostrich races, bronco-busting demos, and a race between a camel and an elephant. In 1902 there was the first Rose Bowl game and another one was not played until 1916 and has been on every New Year's Day since.
Unless New Year's Day falls on a Sunday.
Yup, we still maintain that tradition even in this secular day and age.
There are quite a few churches along the five and a half mile route that mostly runs along the main drag, Colorado Blvd. Back when the parade started, most people still got around on horses as the primary form of transportation. Horses were tethered in front of the churches and thus the parade would have clearly been a huge fiasco in frightening horses and the high probability that many would escape and wreak havoc. Obviously there are no longer horses to deal with and there are still churches. But the "Never on a Sunday" rule has been kept in place.
My first time at an actual Rose Parade was back in 1978. I just started high school and, by sheer coinkidink, New Year's Day fell on a Sunday. So I got to tag along with my older brother and his friends who had a Winnebago and away we went to spend the night at a parking structure near the parade route on Colorado Blvd. The grand Marshall of the parade that year was former president Gerald R. Ford. That was a pretty big deal. but he was not the first former president to serve as grand Marshall. Both former president's Dwight D. Eisenhower and Herbert Hoover served as grand Marshalls. Anyhow I remember staying up all night. How could I sleep? And at dawn the next morning, we staked an area to watch the parade.
And it was awesome and hooked me since.
All the marching bands and floats that are totally decorated with roses and other natural stuff. huge motorized fantasies going slowly down Colorado Blvd.
Since I have not always lived in Pasadena, my attendance was sporadic after that. And at least once I went but really have no idea what happened. Yeah, just keep in mind that it is New Years.
A tradition of many a local family is staking out a spot the day before along the sidewalk. Officially, it can not be done until 12noon on New Year's Eve. But there are a lot of sporadic unofficial spot takers already claiming a piece of sidewalk. But once noontime comes around, it becomes the world's largest block party and continues until the parade starts at the corner of Orange Grove Blvd and Colorado Blvd. promptly at 8am. Amazingly, there are very few incidents of craziness. It is estimated that anywhere from 750,000 to 1,000,000 people line up on the parade route in a combination of sidewalk and temporary grandstands.
Needless to say, when you have the worlds largest block party, you get some yayhoos. And while there are prohibitions to public alcohol consumption, as long as one is not stupid, it will be looked the other way. Same with warming devices. The overwhelming majority of campers are families that have been doing it for generations. And they are very friendly.
But with the world's largest block party/campout comes a massive clean up.
The City of Pasadena public works is on the scene as soon as the last of the parade moves. As trash litters the main drag, within a day it is as if there was no event. Like nothing occurred.
This year was an unusual year.
The grand marshal was supposed to be Louis Zamperini. Mr. Zamperini was a 1936 track and field competitor and entered World War II in the air force. He eventually became a prisoner of war at the hands of the Japanese empire. the movie Unbroken is about Mr. Zamperini from his high school days to the end of his captivity in World War II.
Only one problem.
Mr. Zamperini was 97 years old when he was named to the prestigious role. I remarked to Mrs. RVFTLC that I hoped the committee had a back up due to Mr. Zamperini's advanced age. And shortly after, Mr. Zamperini did die. Mrs. RVFTLC joked that I willed his death. I was just being realistic.
No change was made.
Mr. Zamperini is a graduate of University of Southern California, better known a
s USC. So along with the Tommy Trojan mascot of a white horse, there was a riderless horse going down the parade route. And his family sat in the grand marshal's car behind the riderless horse. The city of Torrance, where he grew up, had a float dedicated to Mr. Zamperini.
It was a great way to keep with the theme of the parade and not try to find a replacement grand marshal. Very classy.
I think some photos from the Rose Parade are a great way to end this post and to wish all a Happy and Blessed New Year, 2015.
The first float of the Rose Parade
The front of the float from the city of Torrance
honoring Louis Zamperini
 The side view of the city of Torrance float
(Sorry, hey, I'm not a professional photographer!)
United States Marine Corp
There are many more photos that you can look at here on my Facebook page. Only 90 photos and that is not even all I took.
Oh, what about the Rose Bowl game?
Well, that sure did not turn out like I hoped it would.
The hideous colors of the Oregon Ducks scalped the crimson-colors of the Florida State Seminoles, 59-20.
For many a moon, the Rose Bowl was the match up between the winner of the Pac-8, then Pac-10 and now Pac-12 conference and the winner of the Big-10, which I believe should be the Big-14. But hey, who's counting. Now with the supposed playoffs with the top for ranked teams in the country, that is why we were treated to Oregon-Florida State.
Ohio State defeated Alabama and will play the Oregon Ducks on January 12 in Dallas, Texas for the national championship.
Say, shouldn't this game be in the Rose Bowl since it is a Pac-12-Big-10 match up?!
Well, both events end the Christmas season and now we are supposedly back to normal. A new year and God willing new heights for all.

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