November 5, 2012

Childhood Memories: Rose Parade 1983



Cheer in the New Year

It’s in recalling childhood memories that I wish I had photos to share. Sadly, I don’t. I have about 100 photos that span from 1969 – 1987. The first 18 years of my life are parsed into what really is just a handful of faded Kodachrome. I cherish them, despite my utter lack of quality preservation techniques. Unless having them in one of those old sticky photo albums counts as ‘preservation’. Alas, most of my childhood memories live vividly in my head.

If you’ve never been to The Rose Parade in Pasadena, California you really need to add that to your ‘someday’ list. I’ve been twice. My first Rose Parade was in 1983 with my friend Jannis and her family. They’d been going for years. Almost 30 years later I can still feel the cold as we stayed up until midnight so we could move up to the coveted yellow line.

Watching the Rose Parade on TV is an experience most people have had. With millions of viewers each year, it’s a ritual for most families. But seeing it in person is … WOW! And seeing it by getting to your destination spot by 7pm on New Year’s Eve and playing games and wandering around for 5 hours is one of those things you really have to experience to understand how fantastic it really is. Because to hear the story told, you really don’t understand that sitting on a thin blanket on a concrete sidewalk, staying up singing and playing games and meeting people from all over the world is truly awesome. Midnight isn’t about setting off fireworks or singing or any of the traditional “ring in the new year’ type activities, it’s all about moving up about 5 feet to sit on cold asphalt and have what thousands along the parade route know is one of the best seats. Like people who head out to Times Square in frigid cold and driving rain, the Rose Parade route is lined with those of us who are being part of that experience.

This year I’d love to take BabyGirl. She’s old enough to deal with the crowds and the temperature fluctuations – lows in the 40s to highs in the 70s or 80s. But, this year Dole is sponsoring a giveaway to send one winner to both the 2013 Rose Parade and Rose Bowl held on January 1, 2013. The Dole Cheer in the New Year promotion runs through December 3, 2012 and is hosted on an app on the Dole Facebook page. You can enter daily to increase your chances of winning.

To sit on the side of Colorado Boulevard and watch these beautiful, colorful, fragrant, and immense floats inch their way past you is an experience photos can’t capture. The sound of the bands and clip-clop of the horses are forever in your mental file cabinet. Watching the parade roll past you at 5mph from 3-feet above ground may not be the optimal vantage point but I guarantee you’ll never forget all the  sights and sounds.

I know many people have gone to parades in their home towns. They’re fun and exciting and something that shapes you as a child (or even as a parent). And while I have never been to some of the “Big” parades in New York I can say that if you have a chance to go to one of these major parades that are broadcast around the world, GO! I’ve sat through hundreds of parades at Disney and while they’re great training, you can’t really compare a 20-min fully scripted pageantry of pixie dust with the likes of The Rose Parade.

It would be fun to go back to the Rose Parade and pass along these memories to a new generation. Winning the Dole Cheer in the New Year would definitely be a way to kick off 2013 and experience The Rose Parade in style!



{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Kate @ Songs Kate Sang November 5, 2012 at 3:43 pm

I used to drag the family out to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in Dallas each year. So, so many great memories.
Kate @ Songs Kate Sang recently posted..Recipe | Grandma White’s Cornbread


Laura Bleill (@chambanalaura) November 25, 2012 at 10:25 am

Going to the Rose Bowl parade is one of my best trips. We went in 1996 when my beloved alma mater was in the game. Kermit the Frog was the grand marshall, and my mom and I were going ga ga over a puppet riding in a car. :-) My husband would like to go now, so I anticipate we’ll have another trip in our future.
Laura Bleill (@chambanalaura) recently posted..2012 Champaign-Urbana Winter Holiday Fun Guide: December


Sara November 25, 2012 at 2:48 pm

I don’t know what it is about the Rose Parade that’s just so special. It’s probably all the flowers. The floats truly are magnificent. I think you’d all have a great time. Although, if I went again I’m not sure I’d be willing to spend the night outside like when I was a kid. Although, it was memorable!


Scott Rogers January 1, 2013 at 3:20 am

Being a SoCal native and having grown up in “The Valley”, I’ve attended over a dozen Rose Parades with family and friends.
One moment above all stands out.
It was the 1984 parade, just weeks after the U.S. Marine Barracks had been blown up in Beirut, Lebanon. We were about halfway down the parade route when The U.S. Marine Band came marching down Colorado Blvd to a standing ovation.
After a brief 2-3 minute lull in the parade, the band was set to start playing again. All of a sudden, they start marching and playing the “Marine’s Hymn” but the Drum Major (The band leader), drops his Mace (Long Staff) and it falls to the ground to the collective gasp from the crowd..
From out of nowhere, a little girl who couldn’t have been more than 3 or 4 years old, ran out to the middle of the street and with all her might, picked up the staff and handed it to the Drum Major and the band played on…
I’ve been to Super Bowls, Rose Bowls, World Series’ etc.. I’ve never heard a crowd give a louder, more thunderous, rousing ovation before or since, than I heard them give for that little girl and that Drum Major… For the few thousand people at the right place at the right time, myself included, it was simply ELECTRIFYING and gives me chills to this day!!!


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