A day for celebrations

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SEE CORRECTION APPENDED

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For The RecordLos Angeles Times Thursday, January 03, 2008Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk1 inches; 51 wordsType of Material: Correction

China float: An article and photo caption in Section A onWednesday about the Rose Parade said a float celebrating the 2008Summer Games in Beijing was co-sponsored by China. It was paid for bya coalition of Chinese American businesspeople and philanthropistsand the Pasadena label maker Avery Dennison Corp.--- END OF CORRECTION ---

The 2008 Rose Parade trotted out Tuesday for its 119th New Year's Day incarnation, with brilliant flowers showcasing traditions as diverse as New Orleans' Mardi Gras, Mexico's Day of the Dead and a Japanese cherry blossom festival.

And with the year's theme celebrating the world's celebrations, life imitated art. One float depicted the Rose Parade itself, with past Rose queens onboard and a 20-foot rosebud coming to full bloom in an explosion of colorful streamers and confetti.

Another celebrated the grand buildings of Italy -- at least how they have been re-created in a new Las Vegas hotel, the Palazzo.

Under a pale sun, the grand marshal, New Orleans chef Emeril Lagasse, opened the parade with the trademark refrain from his Food Network television show: "Let's kick it up a notch. Bam!"

Tens of thousands of people lined the streets of Pasadena and millions more watched on television from around the world. Marching bands came from Japan, El Salvador, Switzerland, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Floats soared and spun with Bengal tigers, space aliens, Chinese dragons and Egyptian kings and queens.

One celebrated the Dodgers' 50th year in Los Angeles with a 35-foot player coming out of a grand slam swing and a dozen Dodger legends, including Tommy Lasorda, Steve Garvey and announcer Vin Scully, riding along. Another depicted Oktoberfest, with a smiling fraulein pouring beer into a patron's mug.

Aside from the elaborate floats, the venerable parade lived up to its most time-tested expectation: taunting icebound viewers with images of balmy skies.

The morning sun glinted off granite San Gabriel Mountain peaks. And high winds experienced in some parts of the Southland left the parade route untouched, sparing the world a glimpse of one of Southern California's most storied quirks, the Santa Anas.

The parade also lived up to another tradition: avoiding controversy.

Protesters who had been threatening to block a float promoting the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games went largely unnoticed -- except by those standing behind the protesters' waving signs.

"Human rights are a big violation in China," said Katie Schwarzenbach, born and raised in Pasadena. "But my rights are being violated here in Pasadena. They're blocking my view. It's not appropriate."

Other protesters calling for an end to the war in Iraq and for President Bush's impeachment also walked the parade route, but after the floats and bands had passed.

Police reported one arrest of a protester who walked into the parade. Andrew Koenig , 39, was given a citation for disrupting a public event, a police official said.

Human rights activists said the Beijing Olympics float, co-sponsored by the People's Republic of China, was a propaganda tool for a government that sanctions imprisonment and torture of its opponents.

"I went around reminding people they are American and not to forget what you stand for," said protester Kai Chen, 54, of Los Angeles, passing out T-shirts equating the Olympics to the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989.

But by and large, parade-goers cheered for the controversial float, representing an ancient Chinese temple with Olympic mascots decorated in carnations and roses, accompanied by 124 costumed Beijing opera singers, acrobats, traditional dancers and plate spinners.

Wong Kai, who came from Shanghai to see the parade, was proud of the float. "I'm very happy to see the float because the Rose Parade is so famous."

Other parade-goers with roots far away were delighted that their homelands were represented in the parade. When "Nuestros Angeles De El Salvador," a student marching band from El Salvador, passed, hundreds of small blue-and-white Salvadoran flags fluttered in the grandstands.

"My country is coming here," said Rene Echegoyen, 26, of Van Nuys, wearing a larger Salvadoran flag like a cape.

The creativity was not limited to the elaborate, animatronic floats. It extended to the smaller bands, the horse riders and, most notably, parade-goers trying to get good sight lines.

Some 30 feet from the parade route, Rich Meza of Burbank set up his own grandstand -- a wood plank atop three 6-foot ladders. He and his wife and five children sat peacefully above the jostle beneath them.

As an engineer, he knew to put his smallest children toward the middle of the plank to avoid an embarrassing collapse.

"It's stupidly simple and really kind of barbaric, but it works and we don't get in anyone's way," Meza said. "And we can smell the hot dogs from here."

The overnighters had their own devices.

Dolores Martinez, 36, of Fresno came up with a method to keep drivers from squashing her fiance as he slept on a mattress over a gutter, which happened to cross a driveway that beckoned would-be U-turners.

"I had the flashlight over him so people wouldn't run over him," she said. "That's how much I love him."

Colby Presley, 17, came with 25 friends from high school in Blythe, Calif. To stay warm as temperatures dipped into the 30s overnight, they huddled in a group like penguins. To keep from getting bored, they got into mischief: spreading peanut butter on tortillas and throwing them at passing cars.

Kelsey O'Keefe, 18, scored one of the best vantage points, viewing the parade from atop her grandparents' recreational vehicle. While her church group camped out overnight, she slept in a warm bed right on the route and woke up watching the pre-parade activities on a 30-inch TV before stepping outside to see the real thing.

"It's a perfect view -- you see the whole length of the parade," she said. The floats "are really innovative with a lot of things moving and spinning."

And it was not just the sights that impressed. Eric Stuhlmuller, 19, walked out on Colorado Boulevard shortly after the parade passed. With its dozens upon dozens of horses -- Palomino mustangs, quarter horses, Andalusian stallions, Percheron horses, American Miniature horses -- in the procession, the route was lined with more than rose petals.

"Wonderful smell in the morning isn't it?" he said.

joe.mozingo@latimes.com

david.pierson@latimes.com

Times staff writers Paloma Esquivel, Tiffany Hsu and Victoria Kim contributed to this report.

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Parade winners

Trophy winners for the

119th Tournament of Roses parade:

Sweepstakes Trophy for most beautiful entry with outstanding floral presentation and design:

Rain Bird International's "Preservation Celebration"

Lathrop K. Leishman Trophy for most beautiful noncommercial float:

Torrance's "Festival of Flowers"

Grand Marshal's Trophy for excellence in creative concept and design:

New Mexico's "Passport to Our World

and Beyond"

President's Trophy for most effective floral use and presentation:

St. Louis' "The Lewis and Clark Expedition"

Director's Trophy for outstanding artistic merit in design and floral presentation:

Kaiser Permanente's "Aloha Festival"

Queen's Trophy for most effective use and display of roses in concept, design and presentation:

Bayer Advanced float "Salute

to the Rose Parade"

Mayor's Trophy for most outstanding city entry, national or international:

Glendale's "Bon Voyage"

Theme Trophy for excellence in presenting parade theme:

Roundtable of Southern California Chinese-American Organizations and Avery Dennison's "One World, One Dream"

National Trophy for best depiction of life in the U.S., past, present or future:

Farmers Insurance's "Celebrating

Our Rich Heritage"

Governor's Trophy for best depiction of life in California:

Anaheim's "The World's Celebration Destination"

Bob Hope Humor Trophy for most comical and amusing:

Lifesource Whole-House Water Systems' "Celebrate Clean Water"

Judges' Special Trophy for most spectacular in showmanship and dramatic impact:

Donate Life's "Life Takes Flight"

Animation Trophy for best animation and motion:

La Canada Flintridge's "Rainforest Fiesta"

Fantasy Trophy for most outstanding display of fantasy and imagination:

Cal Poly University's "Guardians of Harmony"

Founders' Trophy for most spectacular float built and decorated by volunteers from a community or organization:

Burbank for "Octoberfest"

International Trophy for most beautiful entry from outside the continental U.S.:

China Airlines Ltd.'s "Carnival of Taiwan"

Princesses' Trophy for most beautiful float 35 feet or under:

Sierra Madre's "Valentine's Day"

Isabella Coleman Trophy for best presentation of color and color harmony through floral use:

West Covina's "Viva La Fiesta"

Tournament Special Trophy for exceptional merit in multiple categories including floats over 55 feet:

FTD's "The Magic of Mardi Gras"

Past Presidents Trophy for most creative use of floral and non-floral:

Cairo-Los Angeles Friendship Committee's "Celebrating the Treasures of Egypt"

Tournament Volunteers Trophy for best floral design of theme for a float 35 feet or under:

Cerritos' "Festival of Lanterns

-- Illuminating the Way"

Craftsman Trophy for exceptional showmanship and dramatic impact -- over 55 feet only:

Trader Joe's "Getting There Is All the Fun"

Extraordinaire Trophy for most spectacular float over 55 feet:

Santa Fe Springs' "A Celebration of Life

-- Dia de los Muertos"

Crown City Innovation Trophy for best use of imagination and innovation to advance the art of float design:

American Honda's "Passport to the Future"

Los Angeles Times

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