The Rose Bowl Parade

Did I not ever blog about the time(s) I went down to Pasadena to watch the Rose Bowl Parade?  I didn’t!?!  Suck a slacker I am….. lets fix that right now.

As a native to SoCal I grew up watching the Rose Bowl Parade on television and while I liked the floats and was so-so  on the bands, I adored the horses.  Cuz, I was a girl…in the 70’s! Hahahaha.  But in my first year at college (1981) at the University of Iowa it turned out the football team (the Hawkeyes) apparently won enough games to go to a bowl and that bowl was the Rose Bowl (Jan 1 1982).  So about 8 of my sorority sisters (I think…it was 8, it HAS been 35 years!) decided to come out to California for the game, since they had somewhere to stay now that they had a Cali-girl in the House. :)  I think most of them road-tripped it from Iowa to Burbank and that is their own story to tell, although I remember that Tamara flew in from Chicago.

Anyway, I had a lot of fun showing them MY home town of Burbank.  Joking about how on a non-smog day it felt like the studios had put up a scenery back lot. (BEFORE regulations the air in Los Angeles was downright dangerous) They looked up at our mountains asking if a person could breath up there.  I pointed at the houses replying, “you can live up there!”   And my mother got a call from a patient (a movie star patient) who popped over so Mom could see her child.  My sorority sisters were suitably impressed. giggle.

So one of the many connections my mother had was a patient who let us park our vehicles on their vacant lot just a few blocks from the Rose Bowl parade route.  Where we ended up spending our New Years Eve night….camped out for a prime spot on Colorado Blvd.  We knew the police closed off the streets around 10pm and we were ready with folding chairs and bodies for that moment to fight for our spot facing the parade route.  Of course, so were the people across the street so we ended up acquiring a double row of chairs.  And that’s where we took shifts for the rest of the evening, alternating between sitting guarding the folding chairs (in the pouring rain), and sleeping in the van of my best friend.  I remember one of my over 21 sorority sisters buying me a flask of apricot brandy which I proceeded to sip all night long.  The entire street area celebrated in the New Year.  Yet as it got colder and wetter I remember wanting to throw a curse at every car that drove past us as we huddled under umbrellas and jackets.

I got some sleep between 2 and 5 am and then as my best friend sorority sister traded out a shift with another, I made a suggestion.   I thought, wouldn’t it be nice if we went home and got some dry clothing or towels for the rest of the group watching the chairs?  We did have a couple of hours before the parade, after all.   At that moment, in the van were my two besties, one from home and one from the sorority, so they immediately agreed and off we went.  I’m not even sure we did more than leave them a note on one of the other cars in the lot!  We dashed home and first hit my parents hot tub…. ahhhhh….the best defroster of frozen toes was a dip in 102 degree water!   Refreshed and warm we gathered what clothes/towels we could and went back followed by my parents with an industrial thermos of coffee and croissants made by another patient who was a french baker who won a national croissant contest.  Those just melted in your mouth…so good.  There was even enough to share a little with the group around us.

Seeing the floats up close was fun, when the sun wasn’t blinding us.  Seeing the horses crap right in front of us and then watching in horror as the bands would march right through that shit kicking it into the back of the legs of their fellows was unexpected.  And damn… that parade is loooooong.  But, worth it as an experience when you’re 18.

I saw it again in Jan 1999, almost 20 years later under very different circumstances.  A connection through my mother (again) got tickets in the seating for my mother, my husband, I and our two kids.  All the ticketholders had to meet at an offsite location so we could enter the stands together.  The offsite location had coffee and pastries which was good because they marched us to the seating and crammed us in there with very little ability to escape for a bathroom break or anything.  My children each sat on a parent’s lap and while the sun wasn’t in our eyes, it was also blisteringly cold, in the shade, sitting on an aluminum bench.  Even packed in as we were, I was shivering and uncomfortable.

Now in 2016 I’ve found the best way to view the parade.   On  my DVR… at a decent hour… with my coffee and whatever breakfast I’ve decided to make.  Usually alone, because my kids just don’t understand why I enjoy the floats and the horses.

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