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Happy New Year from Pasadena!

January 1, 2015, 1:49 PM · Happy New Year from Pasadena, where the sun arose to a 34-degree morning for the 126th Tournament of Roses Parade.

The year's parade theme was "Inspiring Stories"...

Inspiring Stories

And the Grand Marshal was to be Louis Zamperini, the former Olympian and World War II prisoner of war whose very inspiring life story was told in the bestselling-book and new movie Unbroken. Unfortunately, Zamperini passed away, at age 97, after being named Grand Marshal last summer. He was honored during the parade with the traditional military honor of a riderless horse, with empty boots reversed in the stirrups.

Louis Zamperini

Many of his life accomplishments were noted in a float that followed his family on the parade route.

Zamperini float

The annual Rose Parade celebrates Southern California, so it should be no surprise that there would be several floats celebrating the entertainment industry in addition to the indirect promotion for Unbroken. So say hello to the cast of the 1970s-80s TV hit, "The Love Boat," riding on a float sponsored by Princess Cruises.

Love Boat cast

Looking for more current TV celebrities? Just wait for the float from the reality TV game show "The Bachelor."

The Bachelor

Say hello to movie star Jack Black, riding on the Farmers Insurance Salute to Teachers float.

Jack Black

And to the slightly more hirsute Smokey Bear.

Smokey Bear

Of course, the real stars of the Rose Parade are the floats, including this spectacular salute to "The Rhythm of Hawaii."

Hawaii

I love the detail on the many creatures depicted in flowers, fruits and other organic material on the various floats.

Dragon

Wizard

Engine

Goofy Birds

Monkey

Shark

The Rose Parade leads to the afternoon's Rose Bowl college football game, which this year features a semifinal matchup in the inaugural College Football Playoff in lieu of the traditional matchup between the champions of the Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences. For our many Florida readers, here are the cheerleaders and marching band from Florida State:

And the same from FSU's opponent in the Rose Bowl today, the University of Oregon:

Happy New Year, wherever you are, and thank you for spending part of it with us here at Theme Park Insider!

Replies (6)

January 1, 2015 at 6:07 PM · Thanks for sharing. Hawaii's float is amazing and I love the shark :-). Do you remember which float it was on?
January 1, 2015 at 6:59 PM · The shark was on the community of La Canada-Flintridge's "To the Rescue" float.
January 1, 2015 at 10:06 PM · I was there! I traveled from Fl to root on my Noles. The parade and experience was great despite us losing.
January 2, 2015 at 7:06 AM · Thanks Robert..
I watch this every year.... Love listening to the marching bands...

Pasadena looks great....

January 2, 2015 at 10:34 AM · I always find it funny to see locals bundled up for the Rose Parade and those "frigid" 50-degree step-off temps. I was at the NHL Winter Classic yesterday and saw people wearing shorts and T-shirts in balmy (for DC in January) 40-degree weather.

I was a little miffed that I missed the Rose Parade this year, but I'd say where I was instead was way better than sitting in front of the TV listening to HGTV gardeners talk about status and poppy seeds.

January 6, 2015 at 2:48 PM · I was there too! We followed all the advice we found on-line and arrived at our seats at 5:00am. Trust me - it was a LOT colder than 50-degrees at that time.

Here are a couple of observations for people who have never been and considering going to the Rose Parade at some point:

- Buy tickets and parking in advance. The bleacher seats are tight, more so because of all the winter coats. If I was ever to attend again, I'd buy one extra seat for every two or three people just to have a bit more space to enjoy the show.

- Pack one set of clothes that you intend to wear to the parade, and that won't be worn at all for the rest of your trip. Why? The Rose Parade does not smell of roses, it smells of camp fire. Thousands of people line the route the night before and they are allowed to have fires to stay warm. Every thing I wore that day down to my underwear stank of smoke.

- Be absolutely sure your seat is on the south side of the parade route. The sun hangs low in the sky on New Year's Day, and if you are sitting on the north side of Colorado Blvd. it will be in your eyes through the 2 hours of the parade.

- Have your camera ready for the fly over of the Stealth Bomber at step off time. It may take quite a while for the first floats and other marching units to reach where you are sitting, but the bomber will be there before you know it, and it is a remarkable sight to behold, and will be only a few hundred feet overhead when is silently flies over.

- Have an exit route planned. Getting to the parade was easy, but because of all the closed roads and traffic in general, finding a way out was a bit of a challenge. There were not a lot of signs, so we had to play "Mouse in the maze" for a while until we found a way to get back to the freeway.

I can't tell you how much fun it was to be there in person for this amazing New Year Tradition.

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