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Rose Parade: Spectators brave cold; organizers make final adjustments

Campers bundle in blankets along Colorado Boulevard in anticipation of the 126th Rose Parade

As the 126th Rose Parade drew closer Thursday morning, spectators persevered against bone-chilling temperatures while float decorators made last-minute adjustments.

Floodlights illuminated the tops of the massive floral floats in their staging area along Pasadena’s Orange Grove Boulevard.

Decorators laughed and chatted as they placed white orchids in the city of Downey’s float. Nearby, roses in tiny water vials sat ready in plastic foam containers. On the city of Los Angeles float, an open trapdoor revealed a person sitting inside.

While the staging area is largely the world of officials, officers and decorators, groups of onlookers took the opportunity to get an early view.

Roger Bruce stopped by several floats. The 70-year-old San Antonio resident was dressed in a kilt, and said he had just come from a New Year's Eve Scottish ball.

When he attended the parade a few years ago, it wasn’t nearly as cold.

"It's terrible," he said.

Thanks to a frigid storm blowing in, campers along the parade route faced possible record-setting cold temperatures. The nationally televised parade was set to kick off at 8 a.m. Pacific time.

Along Colorado Boulevard, many campers sat bundled in layers of clothing, some tucked in sleeping bags. And, like the float builders and parade organizers, some spectators made their own last-minute adjustments.

Crystal Bracamontes sat huddled in a blanket on a folding chair, sprinkling green glitter on the letters "R.I.P" painted on a white poster board.

The 24-year-old from Anaheim has come to the parade since she was little. Her father, Dennis, has attended since 1970. But this year, when the floats roll by, Crystal Bracamontes will have a new reason to celebrate.

Her mother received a double organ transplant -- a kidney and a liver -- in April. The R.I.P sign, along with another sign detailing her mother's three transplants (one prior to April), will be waved when the Donate Life float passes by. The donors whose organs her mother received when they died aren't depicted on the float, but Bracamontes said she wants to commemorate their gifts regardless.

"It's a bittersweet thing because someone passes away but someone's life is saved," she said.

Miguel Castro began working along Colorado Boulevard at 7 a.m. Wednesday. Early Thursday, he was setting up white plastic chairs for the families of the Delfines Marching Band from Vera Cruz, Mexico.

Castro first saw the Delfines band play about four years ago. Recently, he watched them play again at Plaza Mexico in his hometown of Lynwood.

"When I heard them play, I thought, 'This is awesome. I've got to hear them play at the parade,'" Castro said.

He bundled up for the occasion with a jacket and scarf. This year was much colder than years past, he said.

Sherry Jacklin, swaddled in three layers of clothing and a fuzzy white hat, wouldn’t let the cold stop her from crossing an item off her bucket list.

The 53-year-old Santa Maria resident has wanted to attend the Rose Parade for years, ever since her parents came to Pasadena 20 years ago to see the event with their friends.

"It's the most beautiful, best parade to see in the U.S., as far as I'm concerned," she said. "Who wouldn't want to see the roses?"

Jacklin and her friends brought heat lamps to battle the cold, but she joked they "could have brought a lot more."

Twitter: @smasunaga

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

UPDATES

4:55 a.m.: This story has been updated with more parade route scenes.

4:31 a.m.: This story has been updated with parade route scenes.

This story first published at 4:09 a.m.

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