Thursday, January 2, 2014

My Kind of New Year's Eve

It has become a tradition of our to leave our house after the ball has dropped and the new year has arrived and head to Pasadena. You have to know how to get there on this particular night because streets are blocked off for the morning’s Rose Parade. We slip in the back way and park on a side street.

Traffic is still rushing by on Orange Grove when we start to walk along it, but only for a few blocks. People in yellow reflective suits divert the traffic as tall cones block the street. Up ahead, the darkness is illuminated by huge lights that have been lifted high above the street.

It is strange and exciting that as we walk down this residential street at almost 1 a.m., there are other people coming and going as well. The houses here are huge and surrounded by generous yards. Pretty soon we leave the sidewalk and start down the middle of the trafficless, but bright as day, street.

And then we catch sight of a burst of flowers and the reason we’re here. All the floats from the Rose Parade are lined up along this wide street and it is our chance to see them up close and personal.

We aren’t the only ones. This late night opportunity attracts an interesting assortment of people. There are people dressed in party wear who’ve stopped here on the way home from a New Year’s eve event. People pushing strollers and wheelchairs and people walking dogs of all sorts and sizes. Kids on razor scooters go by. Each float has a watcher making sure no one decides to grab a souvenir. There are also people in white jumpsuits with rose emblems on the back zipping around on white scooters.

But of course, the real stars are the floats. The colors and the fragrance of all those flowers is amazing. Everything on the floats has to be organic, so there are seeds, and plant parts, too. Up close like that, you can see the individual flowers and marvel at their perfection. Not a wilted petal to be seen.

There is a whole other story going on along the sidelines. Some of the houses are dark, but some have chairs set out on their lawn for guests to watch the parade in the morning. And the parkway is littered with people in sleeping bags, on portable beds and in lawn chairs waiting for the morning’s parade.

The TV crews are already beginning to set up. The side streets have big RV’s for important people connected wit the parade.

A few floats are getting last minute refreshing by people wearing helmuts with lights on them. And then the floats start to move up and get into position. By the time we get to what will be the beginning of the parade and the huge Honda floats, there is a buzz of activity.

And then we retrace our steps. It’s after 3 a.m. when we get back in the car and slip out of Pasadena and head for home. What a way to welcome the New Year.


Planner said...

Your year is already off to a great start! I think I can smell the flowers in your pictures.

Do you think you would ever want to help decorate a float? I can't even imagine how much work goes into each one. There must be hundreds (thousands?) of volunteers.

Susan said...

What a fun tradition!

Linda O. Johnston said...

What a wonderful way to see the floats, Betty! I've often visited them after the parade, but not before. Will consider it now--assuming I can stay awake late enough on some New Year's Eve!

Monica Ferris said...

I want to do that! I know a woman who used to work on the floats, and we talked about a mystery involving the parade. I even had the opening scene ready to go - but it never got written. I would need to travel to Pasadena at least a week ahead of the parade for more intense research, and your vivid description of the assembly of floats in the very early morning hours woke that plotting in me strongly. Maybe someday . . .

Betty Hechtman said...

Planner, the closest i've come to working on a float, is knowing someone who did.

Betty Hechtman said...

Susan, it is like the best sort of party.

Betty Hechtman said...

Linda, it helps being a night owl and not minding being sleepy on New Year's Day.

Betty Hechtman said...

Monica, I too, want to use it in a story or novella.

I hope you're nice and warm. I heard things like it was 40 below in Minnesota.