The pageantry of the Tournament of Roses Parade took over the streets of Pasadena for the 125th time Wednesday morning with a cast of thousands. Marching bands from as far as Japan, equestrian groups featuring Appaloosa, Andalusian and Clydesdale horses, KC & the Sunshine Band, Natalie Cole and this year's winner of NBC's “The Voice,” Tessanne Chin all joined the festivities.
Of course, what most of the nearly 800,000 fans came out to see were the floats with their larger-than-life characters and vividly colored roses.
FOR THE RECORD: An earlier version of this story misspelled the word Clydesdale.
Glendale's 2014 entry, “Let's Be Neighbors,” featured local flora and fauna. While the song “Bear Neccessities” played through the loudspeakers, a deer, a coyote, a raccoon and other California wildlife wagged their tails and Glendale's most famous animal marauder, Meatball the Bear, popped out of a giant trashcan.
“Let's be Neighbors” won the prestigious Governor's Award for best depiction of life in California. Patty Bettancourt, in charge of logistics for the float has been participating in the parade for four years.
“We are thrilled,” said Bettancourt.
Glendale Mayor Dave Weaver sat on a park bench mounted on the float, which was Glendale's 100th entry in the Rose Parade.
Glendale-based company Public Storage's entry was a crowd and judge's favorite as well. Its float, “Adventures in Space,” featured a large spaceship that held three smaller vehicles which would pop out and wheel through the crowd before returning to the “mothership.” “Adventures in Space” won the Grand Marshal's Award for excellence in creative concept and design.
The Fantasy Award for most outstanding display of fantasy and imagination went to Burbank for its innovative entry “Lights! Camera! Action!” An evil villain rode a train waving a deed and chasing a young maiden while a hero on horseback raced to save her. The float had a mining car filled with black roses to simulate coal.
Jon Reeves, head of construction for the Burbank float, has worked with the Burbank Tournament of Roses Assn. for 12 years.
“This is the 100th anniversary of Burbank's first float entry in the parade, but it is actually the 80th float. There were a few years here and there that we didn't have an entry,” said Reeves. “To my knowledge this is the first time we have had a celebrity rider though.”
Director Garry Marshall (“Pretty Woman”) sat at the head of the float “directing” the action and his son Scott Marshall, also an accomplished director, played the camera man.
The float, an ode to silent films, held a real train whistle and played an original soundtrack composed by Timo Chen.
“We are one of the six self-built floats in this year's parade,” said Reeves. “It's good to see the 'selfies' doing so well this year.”
Five out of the six self-builts, made entirely by the entrants and volunteers, took home awards. The Burbank float will be on display at Glenoaks and Olive form January 3 through 6.
Perhaps the most animated and fun entry in the 2014 Tournament of Roses Parade was the La Canada/Flintridge float, “Dog Gone!” Winner of this year's Bob Hope Humor Award, “Dog Gone!” featured crazy dogs who take over a dogcatcher’s truck and turn the tables on him.
The concept was concocted by an eighth grader from Orange County, winner of the annual idea contest which is already underway for next year.