"What a crock!"
Carol Griest was disgusted. Griest and her husband, Alan, connoisseurs of the Tournament of Roses, could not understand why a certain float had been honored by the judges, and their favorite, the Eastman Kodak entry designed by Raul Rodriguez of Fiesta Floats, had been ignored.
"I saw it three times on the tube yesterday and each time the judges refused to give awards to my favorites," Carol said.
So the Griests had driven all the way from Redondo Beach to Pasadena for the annual post-parade exhibit on Thursday to get a closer look. The injustice of it all was that much clearer, they agreed. "It looked like there was sour grapes or a conspiracy against Raul this year," Alan said.
Harder to Please
Obviously, the Griests were harder to please than most of the estimated 250,000 people who came to view the floats Thursday. The masses seemed less concerned with parade politics; superlatives were more common than the phrase "what a crock."
But then, why else would a quarter-million people come see a parade one day late? Bob Johnson, chairman of the tournament's post-parade committee, estimated that when the 2 1/2-day post-parade event ended Friday, 500,000 spectators would have come by--about half the attendance at the parade itself.
Even under a gray sky, the floral phantasmagoria looked none the worse for wear. The 60 floats were lined up in an L along Sierra Madre and Washington boulevards, blocked off for the occasion. Ice cream-suited committee volunteers patrolled the barricades, answering questions and guarding against those who would deflower a float.
A international parade of humanity marched slowly on the one-mile round trip. Camera-toting tourists and locals jostled politely for photo position. Short lines formed at refreshment stands and the banks of portable toilets.
Lost Person Station
A large red balloon was tethered above one juncture. Beneath this balloon, a voice over the loudspeaker explained, was the meeting spot for lost people. A sign there said: "Lost Person Station: Wait here for your family or friends. . . . Don't worry." Translations were offered in eight languages.
Alas, this same juncture drew the largest crowds, many of whom were not lost. Instead, children and adults of all ages halted to gaze and gasp as the giant, mechanized clown on the float "All the World Loves a Clown" did a handstand, his feet reaching 62 feet in the sky. Applause rose from the crowd. During the parade the clown did 74 handstands without a stumble, one of its builders said.
Around the corner, Joseph Aramian posed with his wife and a grandson in front of another float. Their daughter, Sonia, explained that they were natives of Lebanon, but a few years ago the strife in their homeland had fragmented the family, sending the parents to Syria, the children to Canada and the U.S. The the family was able to reunite for Christmas, so the Rose Parade was just embroidery for this joyous event. "We had not been together in 15 years," Sonia said.
For the man wearing a yellow "IOWA" cap who moseyed forward, wife at his side, the event was a simpler pleasure. On the day after his Hawkeyes bit the Rose Bowl dust, Gail Purdy, a 67-year-old retired farmer, was smiling and offering a hearty "How-do! How-do!"
He and his wife, Virginia, had driven from Guthrie Center, Iowa, to Pasadena in three days. In their 47th year of marriage, the Purdys wouldn't let a few fumbles spoil their vacation.
"Planned it before Iowa got in," Purdy said.
"Planned it a year ago," Virginia chimed in. "Never been to California before."
"Except in the airport on the way to Hawaii," Gail added.
Soon the Purdys will drive up the coast, and then make a right turn.
Gail explained: "We got a sister up in . . . "