Pasadena, CA

Rose Parade floats line up at the Rose Bowl under blue skies

Don Simkovich

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Honda's float: Dream. Believe. Achieve.Don Simkovich

Floats lined up outside the Rose Bowl on Dec. 31, waiting for the evening signal to move up and into position along Orange Grove Boulevard.

The afternoon was sunny and early float viewers were treated to the hydraulics of the Honda Float, a cheer team with Reeses “University” and a wild animal-themed float from the San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park.

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Reese's "university" -- one of the many professionally made floatsDon Simkovich

ABCs The Bachelor along with floats from Fox Entertainment, China Airlines, and the Lindquist Institute were happily on display.

To the north the Rose Bowl stadium had banners for Ohio State and Utah hanging outside.

Crowds milled about including members of a 250-person band comprised solely of band directors from across the country.

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San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park waiting in lineDon Simkovich

Rose Parade quiz

Who are the people closest to the parade, are involved at every mile and yet can’t see the parade?

Answer: the drivers.

A close-up look at the privately funded Sierra Madre float shows the three participants: the driver on the left side of the float; the co-pilot on the right; and the third is the animator. Rose Parade requirements state that the float operators must have a 180-degree view.

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The door to the driver's cockpit with the Sierra Madre float Nature's ClassroomDon Simkovich

A thin chain in the middle of the float guides the driver along the line drawn down the middle of Orange Grove and Colorado Boulevard. They can only see the float immediately in front.

The Sierra Madre Rose Float Association has set a record for the first grandmother to drive a float and, Kay Sappington, 75, overseeing the volunteers was the first great-grandmother to drive. Her husband Dick is the animator, riding beneath the deck and eyeing monitors to ensure the hydraulics work.

Sierra Madre’s $40,000 entry is one of only two floats that are privately funded. The other is the city of Downey with a budget of $130,000.

The corporate floats cost from $300,000 to $400,000.

The parade first rolled down the streets of Pasadena in 1890, as noted by the Tournament of Roses Association.

The theme for the 2022 parade is Dream. Believe. Achieve.

Actor, director and educator LeVar Burton is the Grand Marshall. He’s an advocate for children’s literacy.

The Rose Parade Queen and court this year are:

  • Queen Nadia Chung, La Cañada High School
  • Jeannine Briggs, John Marshall Fundamental High School
  • Abigail Griffith, Pasadena High School; Nadia Chung
  • Jaeda Walden, La Cañada High School
  • Swetha Somasundaram, Arcadia High School
  • Ava Feldman, South Pasadena High School
  • McKenzie Street, Flintridge Sacred Heart

Once the 2-hour parade finishes, then planning gets underway immediately for 2023. The Sierra Madre Rose Float Association will hold a contest online.

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I interview entrepreneurs, and dig into the news around Southern California, giving a voice to business owners, artists and more. I also co-write the thriller novel series Tom Stone Detective Stories.

Pasadena, CA
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