"Sunrise at the Oasis," an idyllic desert vision of beasts roaming among cascading waterfalls, palm trees and tropical flowers, won the Sweepstakes award at the 2014 Tournament of Roses Parade.
Large colorful animals, including elephants, a camel, peacocks and a tiger, were created by a team from Dole Foods using a variety of flowers and ornamentals, including crushed beans, moss, spices and even dried cranberries.
Late last night, thousands of fresh roses and other flowers were added as a final touch. The float's beauty and design was cited in awarding the coveted Sweepstakes trophy out of more than 80 entries at the 125th Rose Parade with a theme of "Dreams Come True."
Other float winners include a Governor's award to the city of Glendale for "Let's Be Neighbors" for its depiction of life in California, and a Director's trophy for the Indonesian government's "Wonderful Indonesia" for outstanding artistic merit in design and floral presentation.
The parade got underway a few minutes after 8 a.m. under clear skies and temperatures in the 50s. Highs are expected to reach into the mid-70s by the afternoon, making way for another picture-perfect 5-1/2 mile route filled with floral floats, spirited marching bands and high-stepping equestrian teams.
This year's grand marshal is Vin Scully, the Los Angeles Dodgers' longtime radio sportscaster and a Southern California icon in his own right.
“And now, instead of throwing out the first pitch, let’s start the parade,” Scully announced as the parade moved into action.
Tens of thousands of people are expected to line the streets of Pasadena to view the annual event, some of them camping out overnight to earn front-row seats along streets.
Kevin Lee Light, 53, of Hollywood, was among the early morning crowds taking the Gold Line train from Union Station in downtown Los Angeles to the parade in Pasadena. The tall, bearded man wearing a white tunic, who goes by the nickname "Jesus," said he attended his first parade as an infant and tries to go every year.
Light said he was looking forward to the same-sex wedding that is to take place on the AIDS Healthcare Foundation's float. "That sounds like the highlight," he said.
To those boycotting the parade because of the same-sex wedding ceremony, "I would say peace and love," he said.
Jennifer Adair, 41, of Ridgecrest, said she has lived in California her whole life but this is her first Rose Parade. She and girlfriend Bonnie Cortez sat in chairs with an overhead shade, a blanket draped around their laps.
"I've been waiting for the right person to come with," she said.