126th Rose Parade: The floats! The bands! The couch

I hate being cold. I loathe crowds. You won't see me on Colorado Boulevard on any New Year's morning. But I never miss the Rose Parade. This year, as always, I was cozy in my PJs, sipping hot coffee, glued to what can only be described as Pasadena's gift to the rest of the world. This is my report, from the couch:

8 a.m. — My favorite hosts: I attended the Rose Parade in person once, back in college. A friend owned a yarn store on Colorado Boulevard and invited me to watch from the sidewalk in front of her business. I spent most of the parade huddled inside the store to keep warm and vowed I would never notwatch the parade on television.

I always watch KTLA's broadcast, and any Southern Californian knows why: It's the hosts, Stephanie Edwards and Bob Eubanks, who have had more drama in their Rose Parade partnership than most long-married couples. Bob is always stiff and Stephanie is charmingly awkward.

The other day, in an interview, she noted a float would honor "Ebola first responders." "This is new," Edwards said, "the parade is stretching and teaching as it enjoys and gives pleasure, yes."

Oh yes.

8:30 a.m. — The grand marshal: Choosing a nonagenarian grand marshal is risky.

The Rose Parade's 2015 grand marshal is Louis Zamperini, the extraordinary hero of Laura Hillenbrand's book (and the major motion picture) "Unbroken," who died last summer of pneumonia at age 97.

Zamperini's family rode in the grand marshal's car, and just behind it, a float from his hometown of Torrance offered petal portraits of him at various stages of his dramatic life. He was an Olympic runner and a World War II bombardier, shot down over the Pacific, lost at sea for 47 days, rescued by Japanese sailors and brutalized in a Japanese prisoner of war camp before becoming a Christian motivational speaker.

For a man who defied the odds his whole life, it seems fitting that he would make history again as a posthumous grand marshal.

A spirit like that never dies.

8:45 a.m. — The 'Love Boat' float: Why?

8:50 a.m. — Of parades and politics: Here's the thing about the Rose Parade: You think you're getting a gorgeous display of floats made entirely from natural materials, plus marching bands and equestrians to celebrate the new year and shamelessly flack our fabulous weather. This is not a political event.

But everything is political.

Last year, when same-sex marriage was one of the hottest political topics, the parade welcomed a float with a gay couple, who were married mid-parade. Aubrey Loots and Danny LeClair tied the knot on a float sponsored by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. And it was a lovely moment.

This year brings apologies for racial discrimination.

The city of Alhambra's float honored Japanese American soldiers, whose families were so poorly treated by their own country during World War II. Several elderly vets rode on the float.

And 83-year-old Joan Williams rode on the "banner" float, nearly 60 years after the beauty queen was barred from the parade because she is black.

9:08 a.m. — The metaphorical marriage of Stephanie and Bob: I'm a little disappointed we haven't had more pointed banter from my favorite Rose Parade couple.

After all, there are plenty of folks like me out there who tune in to their broadcast because it's like eavesdropping on a long-married pair who can't resist needling each other.

(Here is a previous exchange noted by my colleague James Rainey in 2009: When Edwards said "aloha" can mean "hello" or "be quiet," Eubanks responded, "Well then, aloha!")

Back in 2006, after co-hosting the parade for almost 30 years, Edwards was pushed out of the announcer booth and made to offer her commentary on the street in a driving rain, while Eubanks stayed cozy in his booth.

The next year, Edwards was kicked off the broadcast altogether, replaced by the much younger news anchor Michaela Pereira. That did not sit well with many longtime viewers — especially women — who did not appreciate the dumping of the "first wife" for the younger, cuter model.

But in 2009, after a management change at KTLA, Edwards came back.

And all is right with the world.

Except the chit chat, which seems to have lost some of its edge. I guess we all mellow with age.

9:40 a.m. — What's Jack Black doing here?: At this point, more than three-quarters of the way through, you get a little bit of parade confusion. Everything is passing by so quickly, it's hard to take it all in. Just as you start to get engaged in a band, or really examine a float, the camera cuts away to the next entry in the lineup.

A few moments ago, Jack Black appeared.

Wait, what?

The comic actor and musician, whose best-loved film is "School of Rock," sat beside his high school theater teacher, Debbie Devine, on a float sponsored by Farmers Insurance called "Dream Big."

His presence seemed to throw Stephanie Edwards, too.

"There's Jack Black, who I love so much I mentioned his float twice," she said. "Please forgive me."

10 a.m. — An emotional end: At the end of the parade, a Wells Fargo executive presented a giant red key to retired Army Sgt. Dominic Perrotte III, a Purple Heart veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq. The key was for his new home, donated by the Military Warriors Support Foundation, in Hampton, Va.

As her husband accepted the key, Perrotte's wife wept.

"If that doesn't bring a tear to your eye," Eubanks said, "what will?"

10:15 a.m. — Once more with feeling: I can't help it. I'm watching the Rose Parade replay. I'm afraid I missed something while typing the first time around. Like the moment when Edwards leaned toward Eubanks and said warmly: "I've been looking forward to this inspired day, well, since I saw you a year ago."

"Aren't you nice," replied Eubanks, his voice as chilly as the Pasadena morning.

Happy New Year, you two crazy kids.

robin.abcarian@latimes.com

Twitter: @robinabcarian

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