Surfing Dogs and Kenny G: The Rose Parade Returns

Tournament of Roses Parade float with white co...

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In my lifetime, I have witnessed dozens of parades. I’ve marched in parades. I’ve watched parades from the sidewalk and from a comfy seat on my couch. Eventually, though, my attention span dissipates and I begin thinking about the mysteries of the universe such as the meaning of life or how they get the moving pictures on the TV screen. (It’s witchcraft, I say!)

Is there anything that could possibly make me want to pay attention to a parade? What could possibly be done to make a parade stand out and draw attention to it? Well, the answer is very simple.

Coat everything in flowers.

Since 1890, the Tournament of Roses Parade has taken place every New Year’s Day. That is unless New Year’s Day is on a Sunday. Than it takes place on the day after New Year’s Day. With me so far? Good.

This means that every year for the last 122 years, people have taken flowers and attached them to a vehicle and driven that flora-coated device down the road so others can look at this and say, “OOO! Look at the flowers!”

The rules of the parade are very simple. All floats must be covered in flowers so that it looks as if a giant flower beast is about to attack Pasadena. There are a few exceptions, but, for the most part, all parts of the float must be covered in flowers. The marching bands are allowed to wear their funny marching band uniforms, though, I believe that if they paste flowers all over the drum line, they get bonus points.

As the floats drive down the road, it is the duty of the parade announcers to point out that every flower or seed was applied “ONE BY ONE!” If this is not done correctly, people will assume that there is a giant flower applicator that is rented by float creators. They will then lose interest. People really hate machines that do human jobs.

Every year since I can remember, I have at least paid attention to this parade. It may make me lame, but I can’t help but like the Rose Parade.

The reason I like it is very simple: the mystery.

Each float that goes down the street seems to have mechanical parts that move. That is not confusing. What is confusing, though, is how these machines do not crush the flower pedals and turn these floats into rolling potpourri.

I stare at these floats, transfixed. I have trouble not crushing flowers while holding them. I can’t even picture attaching them to my car and expecting them to stay put.

To make it to that point of the parade, though, I do have to sit through a fair share of nonsense. For instance, this year’s parade began with an interactive performance. As the first float made its way to the grandstand, suddenly dozens of people jumped up and began singing.

Their song was about roses and parades. It lasted roughly 47 hours, leaving all of the real audience members shifting in their seats, uncomfortably. This finally ends, only to have a float with Kenny G. roll by. The uncomfortably shifting continued.

Then the real parade magic can begin. Surfing dogs slide down a wave pool that is surrounded by thousands of flowers. A Japanese marching band plays the Super Mario Brothers theme song complete with trumpeters jumping as if they had found a magical mushroom. People sleep in beds made of flowers. Animatronic flower elephants move about while people wave, fooling themselves into thinking that anyone actually pays attention to the human on these floats.

Over five and a half miles, flowers have suddenly come to life. For two hours, thousands of people stop thinking of flowers as the things they buy their wife so that she will forget about you saying her hips are “just a little bit wider” than her mom’s.

It’s a testament toAmerica’s ingenuity. Sure, we can invent a giant mechanical device that transports a huge dragon down the road. More importantly, though, we can glue flowers on it so it is ridiculously impractical but looks “pretty cool.”

In my life I will no doubt be forced to watch numerous parades. All the while, though, I will be comparing it to the Rose Parade, hoping to see a machine made of flowers sending flower houses and flower cars out on a flower conveyor belt.

Parades, if you want me to pay attention to you, you better bring something great to the table. It’s very hard to beat surfing dogs.


18 thoughts on “Surfing Dogs and Kenny G: The Rose Parade Returns

  1. I don’t remember ever enjoying watching a parade. Maybe it’s because I’m a Highly Sensitive Person and parades are basically moving circuses taken outdoors. And I always disliked circuses!


  2. I used to watch the parade each year with my Grandmother when I was a little girl. I am totally with you, how do they do it? I can’t put 12 flowers in a vase and make them look pretty… do they make oversized moving traveling things that people dance and stand on look so amazing? It is so strange that I can’t stop watching!


  3. Being a native SOCAL girl growing up here having my parents take us to the parade as young kids was magical. I appreciate it to this day. My eldest sister and my cousin worked on the 1964 float when Dwight D. Eisenhower was a Grand Marshall for the second time. To this day, I wake up (like today) and watch the parade with a smile. The only pimple at the parade for me today, was to have the protesters follow behind the this magical parade in an attempt to destroy the beauty of the day …it failed! (at least in my eyes) Thank you City of Pasadena for again hosting a beauty of a parade. Only downfall…. NO USC! FIGHT ON Trojans! If I have to pick … GO cheese heads! 🙂


  4. I hate a parade. Except the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which I cannot miss. On television. I will not actually GO to one. That’s just dumb.

    Here’s what amazes me about the Rose Parade: there’s a crowd that large that is not allergic… and yet I cannot bring anything in to work without labeling it for the anaphylactics in the back.


  5. I don’t think I could ever watch the parade in person; My allergies are bad enough just from where they drove the floats through town to get to Pasadena. It is a really neat parade to watch on TV, though.

    Happy New Year! 🙂


  6. “people stop thinking of flowers as the things they buy their wife so that she will forget about you saying her hips are “just a little bit wider” than her mom’s.” Lol. You are terrible 🙂 2 days in and you’re still posting, nice.


    • My wife read that and glared at me. I swear it wasn’t meant at her, unless my mother-in-law is reading this, in which case no one has ever had big hips in the history of the world.

      Women scare me.


  7. hey Nate!
    So I’m a local southern CA gal. Therefore, in my life, I have done the New Year’s Eve thing in Pasadena a couple of times. You grab a spot to “watch the parade” and party all night…except, we were too young to actually party. Besides, it was always difficult to find a spot to potty. Local businesses wouldn’t allow non-customers to use their facilities and we were too young for the bars. So you limited fluids. However, it was an excuse to pull an ALL NIGHTER…the only event our parents would allow.

    Let me tell you, It’s cold sitting on concrete all evening. Some people carry COUCHES out to the curb. (yeah, we joked but later it looked pretty damn comfy)

    Eventually you lay down to sleep in your sleeping bag, and drunk people walk by and think it’s fun to yell at you or kick you. By the time the sun comes out, you are anxiously awaiting the dumb parade to start (because you gotta pee) and then the sun warms you enough that you finally fall asleep by the 3rd float…even the bands playing don’t wake you. You might raise one eye lid and say, oh that’s nice.


  8. Wow…talk about a blast from the past! I haven’t been or seen an actual parade since… maybe a Santa Claus parade as a kid. I’m more the type of guy that when you mention the word “float” I think about club soda and ice cream!


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