Jewish Book: Saving Myself, a Los Angeles Childhood
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A Los Angeles Childhood Never on Sunday, The New Years Rose Parade
Thursday, 05 January 2012 11:11

The Never on Sunday Rule matters when New Years falls on a Sunday. Then the Tournament of Roses is held the following day, Monday. So ready and with the channel on HGTV because they always have the parade commercial free, I begin my yearly ritual of watching all the floats and marching bands come down Orange Grove and onto Colorado in Pasadena, the crowds packed in the grandstands and lined up along the street. It begins at 9:00 AM. I turn my cable box to channel 222 HGTV, the one I leave on during the day for my dog to watch home DIY projects. I have been watching this ever since I was a child of 10, I think, when we got our first television, the black and white one, very small screen. Shortly after that my parents took me to Pasadena, getting up very early in the morning to be sure and get a parking space and a place on the curb on Colorado Boulevard. From there we would be able to see it in person. The wonderful marching bands from all around the world, the special ones for the football teams who would be playing later in the afternoon in the Rose Bowl, my dad had to be home in time to see the game. I don't remember the theme that year or the teams that played in the Rose Bowl. I don't really remember much about the parade except for the small three-legged milk stool my parents brought for me to stand on.

The first Tournament of Roses was on January 1, 1890. In 1902 the Rose Bowl Games were added to help pay for the parade. This year theme was "Just Imagine," and had one float where dogs actually surfed (always one of my favorites).

Each year we continued to be glued before the TV screen as the screens got larger and larger and eventually came out in color, probably an RCA Victor because my dad just knew that was the best one available.

I remember going with my friends Martha, Fred and Curt around 1972 or so to the park where they staged all the floats after the parade in Victory Park, near where the parade occurred.  The wonderful fragrance of the flowers, the magnitude of the size of the floats and the intricacy of design amazed us.

A couple of years ago, my friend Judy and I went to see the parade in person. We sat in grandstand seats. We heard the roar of the crowd, people staking out their position one to two days before the event, the whole family set up and bringing sleeping bags, making sandwiches, sharing congenial closeness along the curbs. Imagine 18,000pounds of roses on one float. Experiencing the sound of the marching bands as they come down Colorado Boulevard. The bright costumes were gorgeous, the baton twirlers reminding me that I too used to be able to do that. I learned that in elementary school and did that because I wasn't that great in sports so that became my gymnastic feat.

As Judy and I walked down Colorado Boulevard the evening before the parade, people stationed at the curb offered us their coveted places for $25.00 each. Some asked more for front row seats. The street was all cordoned off, the cops patrolling, making sure it was all friendly.

The United States Marching Band with the color guards first announced the beginning of the parade. The Oregon Ducks Band, syncopation. over two hundred strong. The temperature this Monday in Pasadena was 77 degrees and getting warmer. There was five miles of sound. Horses and riders in splendid regalia, everyone excited. The New Year, flower petals scattered on the street. Celebrating the Year of the Dragon, a new beginning, with a new chance.

Thank you for sharing one of my favorite celebrations, The Tournament of Roses, and for reading Not Just A Jewish Book Blog. Click below to see highlights of the parade.