by Dot Cannon
The 2018 Rose Parade® was going to include a surprise.
Monday’s parade attendees, in Pasadena, were already enjoying sound, spectacle and a general festive atmosphere. The 129th Rose Parade®, with its 2018 theme of “Making a Difference”, had started at 8 am.
During this 129th Rose Parade®, fireworks had launched from several of the floats, to cheers and whoops.
Skillful equestrians drew applause from the spectators.
Los Hermanos Banuelos Charro Team, an authentic Mexican charro team from Altadena, California, demonstrated their skill as they rode along. They’re an authentic Mexican charro team from Altadena, California.
According to the official parade program, 2018 marks their tenth appearance in the Rose Parade®. The team was founded in 1995, in order to promote the equestrians’ Mexican culture.
Float entries ranged from whimsical and imaginative, to beautiful and breathtaking. This Kaiser Permanente float, from Fiesta Parade Floats, played Katrina and the Waves’ upbeat “Walking on Sunshine” as it rolled by.
Meanwhile, another Fiesta Floats creation, “Protecting Nature: The Madrona Marsh Preserve” won the Mayor’s Trophy for “Most Outstanding Float from a Participating City”.
In all, 44 floats would travel the parade route.
Before the big game
Of course, the two teams who would face each other in the afternoon’s Rose Bowl® game were at their best.
The OU band sang a rousing version of “Oklahoma” as they marched by.
And the University of Georgia band made its appearance, playing fight songs. Spectators in the stands chanted, “Bulldogs! Go dogs!”
(The team spirit may have helped. The Bulldogs would go on to triumph over the Oklahoma Sooners, 54-48, in the 104th Rose Bowl® game that afternoon.)
A tradition of wowing the crowd
And the Kyoto Tachibana High School Green Band, from Kyoto, Japan, had had a surprise in store, as well.
A high school honor Green Band, from Japan, appears in the Rose Parade® annually. They’ve been selected from various prefectures in the past.
But all Green Bands have one common denominator: showmanship. When they arrive at the corner of Orange Grove and Colorado Boulevard, they’re going to do something unexpected.
“Our band director likes the surprise,” U.S. program coordinator Emiko Christensen had commented, when we first spoke in 2011.
In past Rose Parades® , Green Bands have taken the corner at a run, danced backwards and spun around as they proceeded down the parade route.
The Kyoto Tachibana High School band, which was one of Japan’s oldest female marching bands until going co-ed just recently, did not disappoint.
They started a short running dance step, with a dip, and traveled around the corner with it!
And then, of course, they played as they traveled.
The Queen’s moment
A few minutes later, a trumpet fanfare sounded.
Pasadena City College’s Tournament of Roses Herald Trumpets had arrived, to herald the arrival of the 100th Rose Queen® , Isabella Marie Marez, and her Royal Court.
Queen Isabella is a senior at La Salle High School, and lives in Altadena. Her community activities include working with Support Our Troops Club and as a Junior Ambassador for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Her college plans include studying social justice and human anatomy.
A surprise appearance
But with all the fun and spectacle, another 2018 New Year’s Day surprise was still on its way.
Prior to the Rose Parade® , Tournament of Roses® had announced that the Forum float, “The Story Lives On”, would feature a special guest performer.
Built by Phoenix Decorating Company, “The Story Lives On” celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Forum indoor arena. The Forum, in Inglewood, has hosted concert greats including Aretha Franklin, Elton John and the Rolling Stones.
No further hints were offered.
Here’s “The Story Lives On”, as it appeared in its final decorating stages, during our earlier visit to Phoenix Decorating Company’s Rose Float Plaza South…
…and here it came, on New Year’s Day, complete with special guests Earth, Wind and Fire!
“Ba-di-yah,” audience members sang along, as the band performed their hit song “September”.
And the float was constructed in such a way that, after the performance, the band disappeared into the edifice.
“Where’d they go?” one audience member was heard to ask.
With spectacle, surprise, music and festivity, on the first day of 2018, the 129th Rose Parade® was more than upholding its tradition as “America’s New Year Celebration”.
And still more was coming.