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Live coverage: Rose Parade returns to Pasadena

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Detail of sunflowers being prepared for the Rose Parade
Detail of sunflowers being prepared for the Rose Parade. See more photos.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

The Rose Parade returns to Pasadena on Saturday morning after the parade was forced to cancel last year for the first time since World War II.

Here are some of the most memorable floats and sights from the Rose Parade

After a hiatus last year attendees were excited to be getting back into the spirit of the Rose Parade in 2022.

Here’s a look at some of the most memorable floats and exciting moments from the parade route:

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The parade goes on, but coronavirus worries still linger for some attendees

The crowd at the 2022 Rose Parade.
(Kuysung Gong/For The Times)

Isabelle Franklin’s house is so close to the parade route it only took her 15 minutes to find a prime spot Saturday morning.

“It seemed silly not to come,” her roommate Bennett Gosiker, 26, said.

Franklin, 25 and Gosiker are both second-year students at the Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine and moved to Pasadena in the midst of the pandemic in 2020. They were excited to see the parade after it was canceled last year.

They were most eager to see Kaiser Permanente’s float, which was math- and science-themed with spinning windmills. The school had originally allowed people to sign up to stand and wave on the float, but they pulled all the volunteers because of rising COVID-19 infections.

“Our friend was supposed to be on the float,” Franklin said.

Though the recent virus surge put a damper on some of the festivities, the pair said they weren’t concerned about watching the parade in person. They both wore teal N95 masks that fit snugly on their faces.

Kathleen Peralta-Wente still had COVID-19 on her mind as the parade made its way along the 5-mile route.

Several of Peralta-Wente’s relatives tested positive for COVID-19 after gathering for Christmas. The 55-year-old lifelong Pasadena resident quarantined at home all week and tested negative in time for the parade, an event she’s attended at least 25 times.

“COVID worries me in general, like all the time,” she said as she took a break from shouting “Happy New Year!” at each float while standing atop a kitchen stool. “I worry about my parents, older people, and younger children. I’m a school teacher and I worry about my students.”

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First-time attendees marvel over the energy of the Rose Parade

The blaring sirens and motorcade clearing the parade’s path quickly captured 2-year-old Brysen Davis’ attention early Saturday.

His head swiveled left and right — taking in all the sights — as he sat on his father’s shoulders for his first Rose Parade experience.

Brysen and his parents, Irving Davis and Breanna Carter, were visiting from Missouri for the holidays. It has been years since Carter attended the parade. The last time was when she was her son’s age.

“We just wanted to get out of the house,” Davis said.

It was also Mona Lisa Tovar’s first time at the Rose Parade. The 14-year-old brought her cat, Pepito, so he could also enjoy the festivities.

She drove into town with her parents from Lancaster around midnight to camp out and get good seats, but also to see the excitement of people ringing in the new year.

“They were throwing tortillas with marshmallows at cars,” she said.

Her mother, Jennifer Rentera, said Pepito was a “good cat,” and they didn’t want to leave him at home alone. Pepito snoozed in a plastic crate with food, water and blankets as Mona Lisa and her parents waited for the parade.

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Concerns over coronavirus infections didn’t keep these spectators away

Jaime Gomez, 28, has attended the Rose Parade annually for the last 14 years — aside from the hiatus last year because of the coronavirus.

He has the same routine each year. He wakes early to get to the grandstand seats along Colorado and Orange Grove boulevards, where the scene around him is full of energy.

“People are excited and cheerful,” he said. “It’s always wonderful to start the new year by being at the Rose Parade.”

But concerns about COVID-19 are still in the forefront of people’s minds.

As spectators from across the country lined Colorado Boulevard, nearly 1 in 4 people in Los Angeles County who are being tested are positive for the coronavirus, and daily totals of new, confirmed infections are doubling every two days.

Numerous health and safety measures are being taken by event organizers, including the cancellation of indoor events leading up to the parade.

The Tournament of Roses is also requiring the 6,000-plus parade participants, including people on floats, marching bands and equestrians, to provide proof of vaccination or a negative coronavirus test within 72 hours of the start of the event. Mask wearing is mandatory for everyone in the grandstand, officials said.

But for many, concerns about the rapidly spreading Omicron variant weren’t enough to keep them away from the parade.

High-wheeled bicycles, skateboarders, and street preachers paraded up and down Colorado before the start of the festivities, along with joggers looking to start the year with a workout rather than midnight champagne.

Craig Farestveit was one of those joggers. His blue running shorts were a stark contrast to the crowds bundled in blankets and donning beanies all around him near Colorado Boulevard and Oak Avenue. Farestveit and his friends, Tom Queally and James Hardy, have been annual runners at the Rose Parade for more than a decade.

The trio dutifully ran down Colorado Boulevard last year to kept the spirit alive without the festive ambiance of the parade.

“We felt terrible,” Farestveit said. “It’s nice being back, seeing the tortillas in the street, innovative bedding situations.”

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Watch: Parade kicks off with a stealth plane flying low over the route

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Rose Parade is a nostalgic New Year tradition for many attendees

UPS float for 2022 Rose Parade sits outside at Fiesta Parade Floats on Friday in Irwindale, CA.
UPS float for 2022 Rose Parade sits outside at Fiesta Parade Floats on Friday in Irwindale, CA.
(Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times)

Valerie Brown, 62, of Loma Linda has lost track of how many times she’s been to the Rose Parade.

She’s brought various family members, kids and even gone by herself ever since she started attending 30 years ago. Watching the parade in person was one of her late father’s lifelong dreams, she said.

“We grew up in Indiana watching the Rose Bowl parade but we could never afford to go,” Brown said.

The marching band was her father’s favorite part. Band is a family affair for them: Brown played the flute, her sister played the clarinet, one brother played the saxophone and another played trumpet. Her father, who died in 2018, played the tuba.

After moving to California in 1986, Brown took the opportunity to attend the parade as much as possible. And one year, she was able to bring her father out for the festivities.

Though she was disappointed the parade was cancelled last year, she was glad to be back — this time with her sister, brother-in-law, her nephew and his wife. They arrived at 5:30 a.m. to smaller crowds than usual, though they’re not complaining. Donning “Happy New Year” headbands and bundled up in lawn chairs, they had a front-row seat right at the edge of Colorado Boulevard and Lake Avenue.

“Sometimes I’ve been here when it’s so crowded you can’t move,” Brown said. “So it is nice having less people. Made it easier to find a place on the line.”

She used to bring her kids and camp out in a motorhome overnight to watch people revel in the streets at midnight. This year, her son stayed home to take care of his 1-year-old and 3-year-old children.

“I’m just counting the years until I can start bringing them,” Brown said.

Michelle Van Slyke, senior vice president of marketing and sales for the UPS Store, said in an interview that preparations for the company’s float — which is called “Rise, Shine & Read!” and features a bespectacled, bright yellow rooster named Charlie reading to a group of chicks — has been going on for about a year.

In 2020, float planning was already underway when the Rose Parade pulled the plug on the event because of the pandemic. But the UPS Store, she said, “had our hands full” as an essential business that stayed open amid lockdowns.

The company’s float is enormous: 35 feet tall and 55 feet long. Van Slyke said it weighs about 24 tons, with 12 moving parts and 130,000 flowers.

“If you’re going to do it, do it in a way that’s going to be fun and magical,” she said. “We all know we’re in the life’s-too-short category these days, and we want to bring some brightness after everything we’ve been through these last two years.”

Van Slyke grew up in San Bernardino and came to the Rose Parade year after year with her grandfather, a construction worker who came annually, even if he was by himself. They would spend the night along the parade route with chorizo and egg burritos and hot chocolate in thermoses.

“My grandfather would just be ecstatic if he knew I was involved in putting a float together,” she said.

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Rose Parade returns with much smaller crowds than past years

The Rose Parade, which drew enormous fanfare from across the country before the pandemic, has returned after a one-year hiatus.

But in the hours before the parade began on Saturday morning the crowds that lined Colorado Boulevard were noticeably thinner.

While the return of the Rose Parade is seen by many as a cheerful respite from two painful pandemic years, it is clouded by a dramatic surge in COVID-19 cases fueled by the highly contagious Omicron variant.

Minutes before sunlight began to peek over the buildings in Pasadena’s Playhouse District, Leslie Lemus and her family parked their camping chairs along the parade route. In past years, people camped overnight for such a spot.

“You get like VIP views,” Lemus said to her 8-year-old daughter, who sat bundled in a thick hooded jacket. “Are you excited?”

Lemus, 29, of Downey grew up attending the parade. She’d camp overnight with her family to reserve a spot at the front to see the floats.

In years past, sidewalks would be packed by sunrise. The shouts and laughter of New Year’s revelers trickling out of bars would echo throughout the streets. Sidewalks would be cluttered with trash from campers and partiers. Traffic would congest local streets and freeways.

But this year, there was no traffic, parking was a breeze and Lemus easily found an empty spot on the corner of Colorado Boulevard and Los Robles Avenue.

“I’m surprised there isn’t more people,” she said. “Now it’s more quiet and calm and controlled.”

She chalked up the smaller crowds to concerns around the recent surge of COVID-19 cases. But she felt comfortable attending since her whole family is vaccinated.

She still gets excited about seeing the floats in person.

“You get to see them up close, the details,” she said, her black surgical mask concealing a smile. “After the parade is over, you get to smell them, all the different flowers.”

Danelle Sullivan, 45 of Highland was expecting the usual rush of spectators when she decided to camp out to secure a prime spot along the parade route. Sullivan, her husband and her 9-year-old daughter had been huddled together on the street since noon on New Year’s Eve.

“We could’ve stayed warmer for longer,” Sullivan said at the idea of arriving later instead of camping. “But not really upset. To come out here is an adventure and it’s special to bring my husband out here.”

It was his first time seeing the parade in person, she said.

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Unprecedented coronavirus cases have officials urging scaled-back New Year’s celebrations

A 2022 sign is displayed in Times Square in New York
A 2022 sign is displayed in Times Square in New York.
(Seth Wenig / Associated Press)

With the highly infectious Omicron variant sending coronavirus cases soaring to unprecedented levels, California’s winter surge has entered another perilous phase, prompting renewed calls by health officials to dial back celebratory plans and avoid crowded settings over the New Year’s holiday weekend.

The warnings come as the nationwide number of newly confirmed coronavirus infections roared to a record high and hospitalizations in California and elsewhere continue to increase.

Though officials said preliminary evidence was increasingly showing Omicron causes less severe illness than the still-prevalent Delta variant — especially for otherwise healthy people who have been vaccinated — the number of people getting infected has raised alarms as officials work to shore up hospital capacity and ensure other vital services aren’t interrupted.

“We know the Omicron variant is airborne and highly transmissible, and that a combination of colder weather, indoor gatherings and holiday-related household mixing would likely result in an increase in cases,” officials with the California Department of Public Health said in a statement.

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Photos: Rose Parade preparation returns after one-year hiatus

Volunteers work on the China Airlines float with the theme "Biking Around Taiwan"
Volunteers work on the China Airlines float with the theme “Biking Around Taiwan” inside the Rosemont Pavilion in Pasadena.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

The Rose Parade will return Saturday. For many, the return will be seen as a cheerful respite from two painful pandemic years. But the parade — and its enormous crowd from across the country — are coming at a fraught time. Coronavirus infections and hospitalizations are soaring again because of the highly contagious Omicron variant. Disruptions abound.

Challenges aside, the return of the Rose Parade will be welcomed by those who cherish it.

Volunteers work a float for upcoming 2022 Rose Parade.
Volunteers work on a UPS float for the 2022 Rose Parade.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

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Kaiser Permanente pulls front-line medical staff from Rose Parade as coronavirus cases surge

A Rose Parade float depicting a lion on a yellow road with the words Courage to Reimagine
Kaiser Permanente’s 2020 Rose Parade float, “Courage to Reimagine,” is displayed along along Sierra Madre and Washington boulevards the day after the parade.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Kaiser Permanente has canceled plans to have front-line medical staffers participate in the Rose Parade, the healthcare organization said Thursday.

Its float, “A Healthier Tomorrow,” will still be featured, according to a statement.

The healthcare system cited Southern California’s recent surge in coronavirus cases, driven in part by the Omicron variant, in its decision.

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How to watch the Rose Parade from the comfort of your couch

There’s at least one way 2022 won’t be a repeat of 2021: The Rose Parade is back to usher in the new year.

After the 2021 festivities were hampered by the pandemic, the flower-filled Jan. 1 parade once again descends on Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena — this time, as the Omicron variant continues to raise concerns — with LeVar Burton serving as grand marshal.

The celebration begins at 8 a.m. Pacific on New Year’s Day, and six networks will provide live coverage: Los Angeles’ KTLA (Channel 5), ABC, NBC, Univision, RDF-TV and Hallmark Drama Channel. Cable and satellite subscribers can stream the Rose Parade on those channels through authenticated platforms; the channels can also be accessed through live TV streaming services such as Hulu with Live TV, YouTube TV, Sling TV and more.

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Rose Parade returns amid new COVID-19 surge, bringing anxiety along with joy

Volunteers work on floats for upcoming 2022 Rose Parade.
Volunteers work on floats for the upcoming 2022 Rose Parade.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

New Year’s Day 2021 started with a pang of sadness for Aida Bueno.

Her beloved Rose Parade had been canceled for the first time since World War II. And for the first time in more than a decade, she didn’t get to spend a few joyous days decorating floats with volunteers from across the country, her “family from everywhere.”

“I didn’t know what to do with myself,” said Bueno, a nurse from Pico Rivera.

The Rose Parade will return Saturday. And this week, Bueno was back in her element: Flitting around a Pasadena warehouse with other decorators, slicing leaves, gluing dried fruit and seeds, blasting Stevie Wonder’s “I Just Called to Say I Love You” from her phone and belting out the chorus.

“Coming back here every year is [about] trying to make people happy,” Bueno said. “To give people something to smile about. Especially nowadays, when there’s not a lot to smile about.”

For many, the return of the Rose Parade will be seen as a cheerful respite from two painful pandemic years. But the parade — and its enormous crowd from across the country — is coming at a fraught time. Coronavirus infections and hospitalizations are soaring again because of the highly contagious Omicron variant. Disruptions abound.

Read More > > >

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