Written by Robert Niles
Published: January 1, 2005 at 6:02 PM
We'd spent the past week in Denver, escaping the rains that pounded Southern California this week. Yet the leaky roof over our townhome allowed enough rainwater to flow through to provide an unwelcome reminder of the storm when we arrived. After what happened in South Asia the same week, however, you'll hear no complaints from us about stinky carpets and some soggy books.
Nor did Disney risk alienating the crowd with an ill-advised design. The park went old school with this year's float, offering a castle-inspired design that anyone familiar with one of Disney's afternoon parades would recognize. Of course, this version of the castle float was executed on grand scale, covered in the blooms, leaves, seeds and spices that the Tournament of Roses demands.
While Disneyland got the parade off to a rousing, and appropriate start, the largest cheers went up for the float from Pasadena's Jet Propulsion Laboratory/CalTech. JPL's rocket man featured body parts depicting JPL's various missions, including two Mars Rover feet. Leave it to the folks who figured out how to navigate the Martian surface to dream up such an inspiring design.
But my two favorite moments from this year's parade were personal. My daughter attends the McKinley School in the Pasadena Unified School District, and this year marked the return of the PUSD Honor Band to the Rose Parade line-up after a three decade absence. The Tournament once welcomed its home school district into the parade, but after a court-ordered racial integration of the district, PUSD bands disappeared from the line-up. Affluent, white families in this diverse community fled the public schools for private academies. And the public schools became a power base for politicians rather than a place for kids to learn.
A few years ago, after previous failed attempts, a group of progressive parents declared they'd had enough, and began the task of reintegrating Pasadena's schools, bringing white families back into the district, while improving facilities, curricula and teaching for the growing Black, Hispanic, Armenian and Asian communities that the district continues to serve. And one of the goals that these parents set was to get PUSD back into the Rose Parade. Thanks to the hard work of these parents I had the pleasure of sitting with today, as well as the courtesy and generosity of the Tournament committee, a diverse, well-trained and talented group of Pasadena middle and high school students finally got to show their stuff to the world on their hometown's most famous stage.
And, as always, the rain stayed away. No rain has fallen on the Rose Parade for 50 years, and after this week's deluge, many worried that fortunate streak would end. But Mother Nature loves Southern California.
At least when the TV cameras are on, I guess.
Happy New Year to you and your family, and I look forward to hearing from many of you lurkers on Theme Park Insider in the year ahead.
Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom
Disney's Animal Kingdom
Disney's Hollywood Studios
Disney California Adventure
Universal Studios Florida
Universal's Islands of Adventure
Universal Studios Hollywood