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Rose Parade Floats 2008

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Last year we woke up early for the Rose Parade; this year we chose sleep and warmth and the opportunity to see the floats up close. We took a shuttle from the Rose Bowl the day after New Years to go see the floats parked along the street. There wasn't as much pageantry nor animation, but it was great to be able to see details of the floats that previous were only revealed to me by my zoom lens.

Rose Parade Floats 2008

Rose Bowl 2007: USC clobbers Michigan


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IMG_4154We planned to go down to SoCal for the Rose Parade regardless, but once USC surprisingly lost to UCLA, the weekend re-oriented itself around USC football. There was the trip to the USC campus so we could pick up additional USC paraphernalia and visit Heritage Hall, where national championship trophies and Heisman trophy after Heisman trophy were lined up in abundance. Then there was the Rose Parade, which also seemed like a USC event given that alumni George Lucas was Grand Marshal -- he had recently given ~$160M to the school. Lucas also did the coin toss at the start of the Rose Bowl with Darth Vader at his side -- USC won the toss.

Then, of course, the game. Our seats were at the USC endzone side of the stadium, which gave us a good view of the yellow/red divide on the opposite side:


It seemed that USC fans outnumbered Michigan 2:1 and we were loud. Actually, for the first half, we were only kinda loud. USC only managed 3 points and squandered at least one other scoring opportunity when QB Booty fumbled. 3-3 is not the most exciting score, though it did keep our nervous tension high. The entire USC offense seemed to consist of 1-yard running plays followed by lucky 3rd down passing conversions. My dad and I chatted during half time and it seemed to us that the USC defense was awesome, but the much vaunted USC offense was asleep.

The USC game plan changed for the second half to one simple rule: pass. Jarrett caught passes and darted away from defenders for 2 TDs. Steve Smith made long games. Fred Davis and Chris McFoy caught a couple. One TD drive consisted entirely of four passes: boom, boom, boom, TD. All the while the USC defense kept making excellent plays: interception by LoJack, sacks and a forced fumble by Cushing, anticipating the running plays before they developed, etc...

Everything went exactly how you want a game for your team to go: a close score early on to keep your attention, then a complete dismantling to leave no doubt. USC fans even got to see a glimpse of their future starting QB Mark Sanchez long before time ran out. Jarrett got offensive MVP honors and chants of "One More Year," Cushing got defensive MVP honors, and Booty reprised Leinhart's role by directing the marching band at the end of the game.

You can get the whole game on iTunes for $1.99. In fact, for $4.99 you can get the 2007 Rose Bowl plus USC's clobbering of Michigan in the 2004 Rose Bowl and the more disappointing 1989 Rose Bowl (for USC fans at least).

Rose Parade


Rose Parade - bird

New Year's celebration this year was done on East Coast time in a West Coast setting. Knowing we had to be on the road by 5am for the Rose Parade, we did our toasts at 9pm and went to sleep.

My aunt and uncle helped us choose good grandstand seats, just a few blocks down from the start and with the rising sun at our back. We sat half-asleep -- d humming Star Wars themes -- watching the preparations on the road in front and the braying of mules on the highway below.

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I was able to pass much of the time waiting in line for coffee and soon enough the armada of rose-covered police motorcycles and pace cars started the whole thing going. I didn't think much of the fact that one of the pace car passengers was wearing a Darth Vader mask, only really noticing the "Our Good Nature" theme of the parade. Later I saw George Lucas' highly recognizable poof of hair in the Grand Marshal vehicle, and the march of the Stormtroopers made much more sense.

The floats were fantastic -- all naturally decorated in flowers and produce. Some were gigantically tall, one frog stuck its tongue out, and others rocked. The horses were also great fun: horses with My Little Pony manes, miniature dog-sized horses pulling carts, horses with glitter stars on their rumps, shaggy horses, and more. And lets not forget classic cars and marching bands, marching bands, marching bands. Most bands carried their banners in front, but Porterville had a better solution for the 5-mile route.

The Rose Parade is perhaps an event best done twice. From our seats in the back of the grandstand, we had a great view to take in the floats from above and we didn't have to worry about blocking anyone's view. But if you are in the front row, I hear you can smell the floats as they go past and, looking at my photos, I see that there are quite a few details that I missed: the frog was made out of broccoli and apples, the lizard is made out of large leaves, etc... We could have seen these details if we had gone to the float building or the float display afterwards, but we ran out of time. Although it pains me to think about waking up at 4:30am once more in my life, I think it would be worth it for a close-up experience.

Lizard - "Natural Beauties" "Nature Rocks" Frog

Two dalmations, one seems to not notice the parade going on:

"Discovering Underwater Nature"

Stormtroopers on Parade


Rose Parade - Stormtroopers

When you wake up at 4:30am to go to a parade, your mind is bound to go a bit crazy. When the mind struggles to put together a thought, it often grabs the first it can find and holds it in an iron vise. In d's case, this thought was the Star Wars opening theme song, which she blurted out repeatedly while sitting in the stands, waiting for the sun to rise. I joked with her that the first band to walk through would play that song, further cementing it in my mind.

We didn't know that George Lucas was the Grand Marshal...

501st Stormtrooper Legion. Ewok float. Grambling State Marching Band, aka "The Best Band in the Galaxy" in Imperial and Twilek garb. Naboo Palace float with multiple Amidalas. Anakin. Maul. And more -- I did my best to document it all.


There was much more to the parade than just Star Wars, but it was a fun touch, as was the weirdness of seeing George Lucas and Darth Vader stroll out to mid-field to do the coin toss for the Rose Bowl.

Rose Parade - Star Wars-04 Rose Parade - Star Wars-20 Rose Parade - Star Wars-28 Rose Parade - Star Wars-05 Rose Parade - Star Wars-07 Rose Parade - Star Wars-48

Rose Parade - Star Wars-17 Rose Parade - Star Wars-31 Rose Parade - Star Wars-26 Rose Parade - Star Wars-30 Rose Parade - Star Wars-01 Rose Parade - Star Wars-18 Rose Parade - Star Wars-37 Rose Parade - Star Wars-51 Rose Parade - Star Wars-52

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