• A banner held by kids and a float behind them

      2022 Director’s Award (Photo – Mike Pashistoran)

      The annual Pasadena Rose Parade has been promoting tourism and local business interests since its first trip down Colorado Boulevard in 1890. Intended to highlight the City’s mild (and typically sunny) winter weather and other charms, while generating eyeballs for television advertisers, the Rose Parade managed to survive World Wars I, II, the Great Depression, Vietnam, and civil strife, but came face-to-face with an existential threat with the arrival of COVID-19 and was cancelled in 2021.

      By Deborah Dentler

      Excited to learn the parade would take place in 2022, two relatives from the Bay Area who had never experienced the parade came to town, vaxed, boosted, tested and masked. We ventured out the night before the parade to check out the vibe.

      kits of home COVID testing

      Rapid Self-Test at Home Kits on Parade morning (Photo – Deborah Dentler)

      The scene was eerily quiet at 9:00 pm in Old Pasadena. Low-rider cars and motorcycles cruised by showing off custom paint jobs, but there weren’t many. A hip hop artist busked for quarters. On many blocks there were only a handful of overnighters setting up camp. And those traditional tortillas filled with shaving cream, a night-before-the-parade tradition? Nowhere in sight.

      A corner pawnshop had swapped out its usual motley collection of old saxophones for parade-themed tees and swag. Many storefronts were boarded up, but at Flemings Steakhouse and Mi Piace, indoor dining was in full swing. My phone pinged a line from the L.A. Times: infection rates had reached a new high.

      barricades on street

      Steel barriers erected on Colorado Blvd. (Photo – Deborah Dentler)s

      Morning of Parade

      Morning dawned bright. Perhaps sensing the longing of Pasadenans to experience a bit of normalcy, Mother Nature ended days of deluge just in time. We strolled eagerly toward Colorado Blvd., passing scary-looking steel barriers erected at the end of our block. (These were deployed all along the parade route this year, a first. Designed to withstand car bombings in Afghanistan, they were built by Meridian Rapid Defense Group, a Pasadena-based firm. They came in handy for parade seating.)

      The crowds were so thin there was no need for step stools and ladders. Kids didn’t need to be hoisted onto shoulders. It was immediately obvious that the Rose Parade of 2022, though it was by no means defeated by the existential threat of a global pandemic, was not your grandparent’s parade. We easily found a curbside spot so close to the action I could have reached out to pat a pony.

      A stealth fighter in the sky

      Northrop B-2 (Spirit) Bomber (Photo – Gareth Peries)

      Mask or no mask

      Many had stayed home, it seemed, no doubt heeding the advice of Barbara Ferrer, L.A. County’s health director, who had urged those at high risk of becoming severely ill to enjoy the Parade on TV.

      Most people around me—but by no means all—were masked. By contrast, most float riders were not. Though masks were required in bleacher seats for ticket-holders, hundreds of thousands of others lined the streets unmasked and –given the many who traveled from hard-hit Ohio—many of them were likely unvaccinated.

      Pasadena’s health department had asked parade-goers not only to mask up but to upgrade to N95 masks. The City’s official dignitaries, however, rode the route unmasked, smiling, waving, and resolving that 2022 will be a better year for Pasadena. Time will soon tell us whether the Parade, and the Rose Bowl Game, were super spreader events.

      people walking with an enormous earth

      Climate activists at the end of the Parade (Phot0 – Melissa Michelson)

      Parade highlights for this viewer

      Floats by the AIDS Foundation and Kaiser Permanente promoting public health and vaccination, Sierra Madre’s float depicting schoolkids on a field trip to study the Amazon Rainforest, and the huge polar bear astride the float entered by Odd Fellows and Rebekahs, calling attention to the challenges posed by climate warming.

      Note to self: ask around to get the story behind that enormous Planet Earth balloon that brought up the rear of the parade, bearing messages by environmental activists.

      My favorite marching band this year: the nearly 300 music educators who came together as the Band Directors’ Band (they also had a float, featuring a huge band director sporting a red coat). Worthy of note is PUSD’s All Star Band, featuring 47 band members, 12 color guard and 12 dancers from four high schools, making its debut for the first time in 16 years.

      One last good thing: wheelchairs abounded this year. I spotted at least a half-dozen musicians and flag bearers rolling along in chairs, and floral-covered wheelchairs were incorporated into two float designs.

      I asked my visiting relative, Joan Dentler, for her take on Rose Parade 2022. She texted me this: “From our sunny (masked-up) corner of Colorado Blvd., we welcomed 2022 with a perfect mix of bands, floats, horses and riders, an explosion of color and creativity, football rivalry and good cheer. Thank you, Pasadena—we’ll be back!  PS: let in that climate change balloon next time!”

      Band memebrs marching while playing music

      PUSD All Star Band (Photo – Jennifer Hall Lee)

      A kid basking in confetti

      The City of Pasadena captured this photo depicting the feeling after attending your first Rose Parade! (Photo – City of Pasadena)

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      1. Pat says:

        How many floats, bands and equestrian units have to be eliminated in order to put in the unnecessary big production acts. The parade has to stay at exactly two hours due to tv coverage. Those acts at the beginning and middle (Jimmy Allen/Layne Hardy)etc.,
        not only burn 15-20 minutes of parade time, but also mess with the continuity farther down the parade route.

      2. Cathy Venegoni says:

        Good report, liked all observations. I agreed it wasn’t like the “old days” for sure.

      3. Vangie Lozada says:

        Never in my life would I have ever expected to see the night before the Parade see Colorado Blvd so empty. It was a sad thing that the traditional low-rider, Hot Rods, Modal T all the classic car that used to cruise Colorado till midnight did not get the chance because they block off the street early. Very few little tortilla, shaving cream, silly string marshmallow tossing was going on. Here hoping our old tradition will be back next year

      4. William Baptiste says:

        With all things considered! It’s a new beginning..Don’t live off the glories of other people’s history. Make your own.

      5. Tdebow says:

        Why did they make the Rose Queen and the court wear those silly masks? What a shame. Hiding their beautiful faces in what was a day they will never revisit. Shame on Pasadena TOR.

      6. Lloyd Newell says:

        Over 130 years old and you think T & R would have gotten parade planning done much better. Some will say I’m full of it. But you of short memories don’t remember when the parade was not a rolling float of bill boards. When Honda was not a player. Time moves on, but one expects things to better, not the case this year and the past few years…… Get rid of corporation sponsors.

      7. Linda says:

        What happened to the Tournament program that costs$10.00 and was totally a disaster. Incorrect parade order, no numbers
        Etc. First time ever that this has happened…. I think.

      8. Lee Bothast says:

        Nice thoughts, despite the pandemic “clouds”.

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