I grew up next door to Pasadena, California, home to the New Year’s Day Rose Parade and Rose Bowl Football Game. I never went to either one, but my dad was known to saunter on over with his Nikon and take photos of the floats (and the girls waving) in the parade. I’ve seen the floats up-close, after the event — an event in itself.
I’m not interested in parades at all. But, I have memories of waking up New Year’s Day to the sound of the television extolling the beauties of flower-covered floats. To tell you the truth, I don’t really get the whole parade thing. The night before, the streets in Pasadena are full of people holding their spot, sleeping right there on the sidewalk. Scalpers sell tickets and squatters have corners they sell to those who want a spot along the parade’s path. It’s a scene.
The Pasadena Valley Hunt Club started the Rose Parade in 1890. They wanted to entice New Yorkers and others from the snow to come out and enjoy the sunshine, flowers, oranges and sports of California. Back then, the sports included jousting, chariot races, foot races, polo and tug-of-war (all in all, not much different that today’s football.) Before the games, contestants would decorate their chariots with flowers and parade around. That’s how it all began. By 1894 they had marching bands and ostrich races as well as an elephant versus a camel race (the elephant won.)
Today it has become so elaborate that professionals are hired to design and build the floats and flowers are shipped in from anywhere in the world. I still don’t get it — the flowers eventually die, all that work gone.