Rose Parade honors Orlando and the Pulse nightclub victims

January 2, 2017, 11:36 AM · Happy New Year from Pasadena, Calif., where the annual Tournament of Roses Parade stepped off this morning, one day later than its traditional New Year's Day start, thanks to the tournament's long-standing "never on a Sunday" tradition.

None of the local theme parks sponsored a float in this year's parade, but the world's theme park capital was well represented. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation devoted its float in this year's parade to pay tribute to the 49 victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando... as well as the Orlando and global communities that embraced the friends and families of the victims in the aftermath.

Honoring Orlando

The float, by Fiesta Parade Floats of Irwindale, won the Lathrop K. Leishman award for "most beautiful non-commercial float." And the tribute elicited the loudest cheers of any float that I heard at the corner of Orange Grove and Colorado boulevards this morning, as 49 doves flew into the air in front of the television cameras on the route, symbolizing each of the victims.

Messages for Orlando
Some of the messages for the lost, on the float

Moments earlier, the parade stepped off with a musical celebration...

...followed by the usual eclectic collection of floral delights, including a monkey king,

Monkey King

a tribute to reading,

Reading in the Rose Parade

a roller coaster from the City of Downey that looked not entirely unlike Disney's Big Thunder Mountain,

Downey roller coaster Rose Parade

and even some surfing dogs.

Surfing dogs

A personal highlight? Getting to see my old high school's marching band in the parade. The Marching Pride of Lawrence Township represents Lawrence Central and Lawrence North high schools in Indianapolis, which I attended (*cough* *cough*) years ago.

Lawrence Central's marching band also appeared in the Rose Parade in 2005.

Happy New Year to everyone in the Theme Park Insider community!

Replies (3)

January 3, 2017 at 7:38 AM

Happy New Year to all TPI members… Time to start planning my Orlando 2017 visit!

I love this Rose bowl parade and game every year. The marching band with the balloons on their heads that were dressed like toy soldiers was memorable for me.

January 3, 2017 at 9:41 AM

Robert - the televised parade only lasted two hours. It seems to me in the past, it has gone on for at least three hours, if not longer. Do you have any recollection of how long the parade was yesterday from step off to step down? I feel like the TV viewing public really got a raw deal this year. Granted, I was hosting a gathering so I was distracted, but I didn't see the City of Downey float, and I have to believe someone in my home would have drawn my attention to that one in particular.

January 4, 2017 at 5:01 AM

Rob McCullough, you need to watch the parade on HGTV. They are commercial free. This year's parade only lasted 1 hr, 55 min. In the past it lasted 2 hrs, 5 min or so. It could be the pacing.

Robert, 7 years ago, my high school band was in the Rose Parade for the first time. Since we never been to the parade before, we decided to travel to see it. Another treat was Penn State was also playing in the Rose Bowl game.

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