My sisters and I were so fortunate to grow up in the beautiful area of Los Angeles known as Los Feliz and every year, from the time we were children, we would go to the Rose Parade. It was always thrilling and it always will be thrilling!
Back in the 1950s there weren’t a million people lining the parade route like there are today. We would load two tall ladders and a long, thick plank into our cracker-box shaped blue Plymouth station wagon and head to Pasadena. The area where we lived wasn’t far from Pasadena. Back then, in the 1950s and early 1960s people whose homes were close to the parade route would let you park on their lawns for about $5. We always, always went to the end of the parade route and we did just fine. We’d pay the owner $5 and get the ladders and plank out of the car and find a place along the parade route. We’d set up the ladders, our father would get some help from someone nearby and then they would maneuver the big plank between the two ladders. People were always happy to help and it was such a party atmosphere. I still have my old (and i do mean OLD) scrapbook that is filled with photos and souvenirs from one of the 1950s parades. I look at it every once in a while and wonder how I got so old. I also look at it with the eyes of a child who was mesmerized by all of it and so grateful to my parents who made it all possible.
As the parade was starting my sisters and I would climb up the ladder and scoot across it until we got our vantage point. It was a brilliant idea as we could see everything because we weren’t at street level, we were above it. It was fabulous. I still have pictures and a program from way back when in the 1950s. What fun! Everyone was in a party mood and people happily helped our dad get the plank between the two ladders. Talk about a birds-eye-view of the parade…..my sisters and I truly were “above it all.”
As a college students my friends and I would head to the parade route and spend the night in the freezing cold and wait to see the parade. We would take a Habachi grill, some food, coal for the Hibachi, warm gloves, blankets and jackets. We’d just find a place on the route and plunk ourselves down on the cold pavement. We had a lot of company, of course, but everyone was excited and in a holiday mood, no matter how cold it was along Colorado Boulevard. It’s amazing what college students can endure….we loved the cold! Of course, it was zero degrees out there on the parade route like it was expected to be yesterday. I get cold just thinking about it but I really missed being there. No matter how many times people may see it on television there is nothing like being there in person. You truly do come away with memories that last a lifetime and you can tell your grandchildren that you spent the night on the parade route. They’ll think you were really stupid or really cool.
Last year my children and their children and I squeezed into my cousin’s condo in Pasadena to go to the parade. It was hilarious because with my cousin and her man, my son, his wife and two children, my daughter and her husband and their five children it was unbelievably cramped. You know what? It was the most fun I’d had in a long time! We wanted to do it again this year but with the unbelievably freezing cold temperatures that were expected (and were there) we unfortunately felt we weren’t up to it this year.
If you’ve never had the chance to go to the Rose Parade in person, you should. While watching it on television is beautiful and fun it cannot compare to actually being there. Is it insane? Absolutely! Is it cold (especially this year when the temperature literally hovered about zero)? Yes! Is it crowded? Yes! Is it one of those experiences everyone should do at least once?
Happy New Year, everyone!