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Pasadena Gets Ready : Rose Parade-Goers Sprout Early on Route

Times Staff Writers

Pasadena’s annual two-step contest was celebrated along Orange Grove and Colorado boulevards Monday as overeager Tournament of Roses parade-goers danced around police officers scurrying to roust them.

Across Pasadena--and elsewhere in the Southland--preparations for New Year’s Day’s floral parade reached a deadline pitch.

Although street camping is technically prohibited until noon today along the 5 1/2-mile route, parade aficionados began streaming into Pasadena Sunday afternoon, prompting police to call in several extra officers Monday to help dissuade the early arrivals.

“Everyone we’ve asked to move has done so, some grudgingly,” Sgt. Mike Guerin said.

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60 Floats Expected

“A lot of people move from one spot to another--it becomes almost a game. They know what we’re doing and we know what they’re doing,” he said. “As long as they keep moving, there’s no problem with that.”

Aside from the traditional mild parrying between police and celebrants, preparations for the 97th annual Rose Parade were marching ahead on schedule Monday. Construction workers scrambled over grandstands that when completed will hold some of the estimated 1 million people who will line the parade route by Wednesday morning.

At hangar-like pavilions across the San Gabriel Valley, volunteers were gluing millions of flowers onto the skeletons of the 60 floats that will glide down the parade route.

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And at Pasadena City College, members of some of the 22 bands that will entertain parade-goers held a preview performance.

Barring complications, the parade, complete with floats, bands and 25 equestrian teams, will step off from the corner of Orange Grove Boulevard and Ellis Street at 8:20 a.m. New Year’s Day.

The parade units will move north on Orange Grove, east on Colorado Boulevard and northeast on Sierra Madre Boulevard, taking an estimated two hours to complete the trip.

Humorist Erma Bombeck will serve as grand marshal of the annual parade, whose theme is “A Celebration of Laughter.”

“Parades, along with dust collecting, have always been a favorite hobby of mine,” she confided to the world when she was named in September.

Bombeck said she actually wanted to be named Rose Queen--until she considered the travail of holding in her stomach for two hours. So the honor instead went to Aimee Lynn Richelieu, who will reign over the parade with Princesses Shannon Colleen Guernsey, Tracey Kay Langford, Christine Helen Huff, Julene Maree Penner, April Ashley Lake and Loreen Belle Weeks.

Neither the princesses nor anyone else gathered to see the parade in person will have much to worry about from the skies, according to early weather forecasts.

The National Weather Service on Monday predicted a New Year’s Day dominated by variable high cloudiness--not exactly one of those bright blue days for which Tournament of Roses organizers yearn, but not too bad either.

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Actually, there is a chance that another layer of subtropical moisture--similar to the one that dropped scattered showers over the weekend--may drift over Southern California beginning today. If that means more sprinkles, the National Weather Service was not yet ready on Monday to predict them.

Cool in the Morning

By afternoon, temperatures could reach the mid-70s, but parade-time temperatures should be in the 40s and 50s, the weather service said.

Neither the cooler temperatures, the outside chance of sprinkles, nor the deployment of extra police officers meant to chase them away dampened the spirits of the early arrivals on Monday. They had plenty of blankets--and prescriptions for avoiding trouble.

“We’ve been doing it for three years and every year the police say they will kick us out--but usually they don’t hassle people unless the people have pitched a tent,” said Kevin Hancock, 25, of Woodland Hills, who arrived on Orange Grove Boulevard Sunday night with two friends in tow.

Just north of Hancock’s group, Jim Noson and seven Anaheim friends prepared to celebrate Noson’s 19th birthday today--and the parade on Wednesday.

“There’s no hassle as long as we don’t bring our chairs out,” Noson said. “We make a party of it. . . .”

Police Sgt. Guerin said a full force of 1,100 Pasadena police, sheriff’s deputies and other law enforcement personnel will be in place by late today to oversee the open-air New Year’s Eve party. By 8 p.m., the float staging area bordered by Colorado on the north, Grand Avenue on the west, DeLacey Avenue on the east and the city limits to the south will be closed to the general public. Also closed at 8 p.m. will be the Orange Grove off-ramps of the Foothill and Pasadena freeways and the Sierra Madre-San Gabriel off-ramp of the Foothill Freeway.

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