by Dot Cannon
Even before Pasadena’s 129th Rose Parade® began, the magic was palpable.
Just after 5:00 Monday morning, music echoed from the corner of Colorado Boulevard and Orange Grove. YouTube and Broadway star Todrick Hall was leading his cast through a final rehearsal for the parade pre-show.
“How do you feel about that?” he asked, after multiple dancers, flag performers and marching band musicians completed a spectacular routine.
“Magical? You guys are incredible.”
The Goodyear blimp was flying over the grandstands. It alternated flashing a “Happy New Year” message with the 2018 Rose Parade® theme: “Making a Difference”.
Meanwhile, parade goers began lining up to get their pictures in front of the sign, before it served as the backdrop for the parade’s opening show.
As always, the sunrise over Colorado Boulevard seemed to herald a fantastic parade. The clock was counting down to 8 am.
The sky brightened. White Suiters asked attendees to find their seats.
The lineup sat ready.
Motorcycle police moved onto Colorado Boulevard as a cheer went up from the grandstands. Showtime!
Todrick and his group took to the stage, starting off “America’s New Year Celebration®” as only the Tournament of Roses® can. Then, 2018 Rose Parade® Grand Marshal Gary Sinise appeared.
“Good morning! Happy New Year! Are you ready for a parade?” he asked the crowd.
Cheers were his answer.
And the crowd began scanning the sky. They didn’t have long to wait.
The U.S. Air Force B2 Spirit stealth bomber and its two accompanying F-35’s glided over the grandstand and down the parade route.
The roar and cheers from the grandstands seemed louder than the sounds of the aircraft.
And, Pasadena’s 129th Rose Parade® was under way!
Now, there is no way one post will ever do justice to the spectacle, energy and music of the Rose Parade®. Here are just a few highlights.
Imagination, honor and energy
Among our favorites of the first part of the 2018 Rose Parade® was Honda’s opening float. “Power of Dreams Express”!
This is Phoenix Decorating Company’s reimagining of musical instruments as the cars of the train.
Immediately afterwards, the United States Marine Corps Mounted Color Guard appeared. They’re the last remaining Mounted Color Guard in the Marine Corps today, according to the official parade program. The audience applauded as they rode by,,,
…and continued clapping as the United States Marine Corps West Coast Composite Band marched by, playing the “Marines’ Hymn”.
More applause ensued, at the appearance of the Odd Fellows and Rebekahs float. Their “Sacrifice to Serve” float, two representatives told us, was created to honor Purple Heart veterans.
The veterans riding the float included one female service member. Incidentally, “Sacrifice to Serve”, built by Phoenix Decorating Company, was the first of twenty-four floats, in today’s parade, to appear with an award banner . They won the Director Trophy, for “Most Outstanding Artistic Design and Use of Floral and Non-Floral Materials”.
Not far behind them came another award-winning float. This was the first independently-built, or “self-built”, float to appear in today’s parade.
Sierra Madre Rose Float Association’s entry, “Chivalry!”, depicted a valiant young knight, bandaging a dragon’s injured paw. As a winner of this year’s Fantasy Trophy, the float contained approximately 60,000 flowers, according to the Tournament of Roses®.
Following this float, the Londonderry High School Marching Lancer Band and Color Guard presented a rousing rendition of “The Stars and Stripes Forever” as they made their fifth Rose Parade® appearance.
Horses, stewardship and beauty
“They’re so small!” exclaimed one audience member, a few minutes later. And she was right.
These denizens of the So Cal Mini Horse Sanctuary, making their second appearance in the Rose Parade®, did look to be about the size of a large dog. According to
So Cal Mini Horse Sanctuary’s website, a true miniature horse is less than 34″ in height.
Following them were nonprofit Mini Therapy Horses, from Calabasas–also appearing in their second Rose Parade®.
The Dole float, by Fiesta Parade Floats, was themed “Sharing Nature’s Bounty”. This theme celebrated Dole’s partnership with Feeding America and FOOD Share, bringing food to underserved communities. And this was another award-winner: “Sharing Nature’s Bounty” received the Grand Marshal Trophy for “Most Outstanding Creative Concept and Float Design”.
“Sharing Nature’s Bounty” included a 16-foot waterfall with 7,000 gallons of water, and animated animals. Dancers accompanied the float, performing both traditional and modern dances.
Another message of conservation–and another award-winning float–followed.
China Airlines’ “Caring For Our Sea”, built by Artistic Entertainment Services, won the International Trophy for “Most Outstanding Design Outside the United States”.
The float depicted a scuba diver, exploring a giant kelp forest with a coral reef and numerous denizens of the ocean.
And much more was coming…