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For campers along Rose Parade route, a chilly night on the sidewalk is worth it

The Rose Parade is Monday and people are already camping out the day before to get a good spot.

For those spending the last night of 2017 camping on the sidewalks along Pasadena's famed Colorado Boulevard, a chilly night under the stars is well worth it to see the Rose Parade up-close and personal.

By midday Sunday, scores of campers had already staked their spots, covering the sidewalks in a patchwork of colorful chalk markings — big, hand-drawn squares marking places for families, groups of buddies, Boy Scout troops.

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As classic cars cruised by, a woman hung a small gold-lettered banner reading "Happy New Year" to a tree. Campers bustled about, setting up chairs and cots, propane tanks and barbecue grills. Young men played Monopoly and Settlers of Catan from their lawn chairs, and two women swung from hammocks.

The Goodyear blimp hovered overhead. A car covered in University of Georgia flags drove slowly down Historic Route 66, and fans in town for Monday's Rose Bowl game between Georgia and the University of Oklahoma sported their team's colors all along the route.

Penny Pongun, of San Diego County, brought her two sons, Quintin, 9, and Phoenix, 12, and her mother, Linda Johnson, for what's to be their third time camping out before the parade. They sat around a folding table playing Yahtzee.

"It's a really fun family event," Pongun said.

"You can smell the flowers," Johnson added, smiling. "It's not like being home, watching TV. Last year, we didn't make it, and we missed the smell."

The boys were prepared to entertain themselves all night. They brought their tablet computers, the games Jenga and Monopoly, coloring books, reading books.

Pongun said the most important camping items were fun games, warm clothes and battery chargers.

And Grandma Linda brought noisemakers to ring in the new year.

The Pongun family — Phoenix, Quintin and Penny — and Penny's mother, Linda Johnson, play Yahtzee as they camp Sunday afternoon before the Rose Parade.
The Pongun family — Phoenix, Quintin and Penny — and Penny's mother, Linda Johnson, play Yahtzee as they camp Sunday afternoon before the Rose Parade. (Hailey Branson-Potts / Los Angeles Times)

Down the street, Dixie and Rafael Salcedo, a married couple from Azusa, sat in their spot near South Lake Avenue, where they had a pile of wood ready to go for an overnight fire. The couple had been there since just after 11 a.m. on Sunday, and their four children, ages 4 to 17, would join later.

"I guess it starts when I was a kid," Rafael said of camping. "I came out and spent a few New Year's Eves when I was a child growing up, and I kind of want to do the same for my kids."

The Salcedos said they've learned to appreciate having warm sleeping bags and a fire for the cold night. And — salt. A few years back, when they camped farther east on the route, they got a bit of an unexpected invasion.

"In the middle of the night, if you're camping out on the grass, the slugs will come out and surprise you," Rafael said, laughing.

"They were coming onto all our stuff, and we had to go buy some salt to put all over the grass," Dixie said.

The 5.5-mile parade route will be closed to all traffic beginning at 10 p.m., hours earlier than past years for public safety reasons, authorities said. The parade route begins at the corner of Green Street and Orange Grove Boulevard.

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Police will be on hand at key intersections along Colorado to allow north- and southbound traffic to cross the boulevard. Crossover traffic will be cut off at 6 a.m. Monday.

"Currently, we have no known credible information regarding threats to either the Rose Parade or the Rose Bowl Game," Pasadena Police Chief Phillip L. Sanchez said in a statement.

"However, public safety at these premier events is our number one priority. We are taking these steps on a proactive basis to help provide a more secure environment as part of our on-going analysis of other large special events and activities around the world."

The parade is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. Monday and lasts about two hours.

Luckily for campers, the National Weather Service is predicting relatively mild overnight temperatures, in the low 50s. By the time the parade starts, it should be in the high 50s or low 60s in Pasadena.

Dixie and Rafael Salcedo from Azusa camp out along Colorado Boulevard on New Year's Eve.
Dixie and Rafael Salcedo from Azusa camp out along Colorado Boulevard on New Year's Eve. (Hailey Branson-Potts / Los Angeles Times)

Twitter: @haileybranson

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