2017 Rose Parade live updates: Flora, fauna and fun with animals in this year’s parade


Surfing dogs and therapy horses were among the highlights of the annual event, themed “Echoes of Success.” Times reporters and photographers were positioned along the 5.5-mile route to provide coverage.

Key information

With a high five, a vintage patrol car and emptied water barriers, that’s a wrap. See you at the next one


Donors and recipients march together to encourage organ donation

Among the corporate brands, public agencies and civic associations presenting floats at this year’s Rose Parade, the Donate Life float, dedicated to organ and tissue donors and recipients, stood out.

The float’s theme was “Teammates and Life,” to reinforce the idea that “no one walks alone, and organ donation is a team effort,” said Donate Life spokesperson Tania Llavaneras.

The float was shaped like a Polynesian catamaran. Sixty floral portraits of deceased donors decorated the sails; living organ and tissue recipients manned its oars.

Walking alongside the float were six people connected in a multicultural kidney chain.

Jeanne Cheung was one member of the chain. When Cheung’s husband was in end-stage renal failure, she wanted to help. She wasn’t a match for her husband, but through a kidney exchange program at UCLA, she was able to donate a kidney and her husband was able to receive one from a stranger.

Sonia Valencia, who had spent six years on dialysis, was the recipient of Cheung’s kidney. Cheung and Valencia walked as partners in Monday’s parade.


Parting words from protesters

As the last of the floats rolled by, followed by vans and tow trucks, a light rain began sprinkling over spectators as they packed their belongings to head home.

One last unofficial group made its way down Colorado Boulevard. Its marchers chanted, carrying signs that read “Veterans stand with Standing Rock” and “Water is life” and pushing a large teepee on wheels — drawing cheers from people heading back to their cars.

Sienna Thomas came from Palm Springs to join the demonstration, and she carried a large red and yellow banner that read “Stand with Standing Rock” above a large, closed fist.

“We’ve been doing rallies to support our brothers and sisters on the front line at Standing Rock,” she said.

The Standing Rock Sioux Indian Tribe and others have been protesting the Dakota Access oil pipeline, which was scheduled to be constructed under a dammed section of the Missouri River from which the tribe gets its drinking water.

Some among the demonstrators were Native Americans and others were supporters, forming a moving mass of about 100, hoping to bring awareness to the pipeline issue. Also present were Bernie Sanders supporters, reprising a similar post-parade march they carried out in support of the candidate last year.

“We call ourselves water protectors,” Thomas said, referring to the ongoing protests in North Dakota.

Even though the march was not an official part of the parade, Thomas says the group got approval from Rose Parade security. “They’ve been really supportive,” she said.


It’s not too late to see the floats today

Following the parade, visitors can still view the floats at a nearby showcase. Here’s some key info:

When: Monday from 1 to 4 p.m.; Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Location: At the corner of Sierra Madre and Washington boulevards in Pasadena

Tickets: General admission is $13. Children 5 and under are free.

Click here for more details>>


Representing Armenian culture at the Rose Parade

Mariana Maradian, 18, was in the middle of her shift as a cashier at Federico’s Bakery in Pasadena on Monday as the Rose Parade was in full swing, but that didn’t stop her from rushing to the window for a glimpse of the Armenian float.

Beaming, she snapped pictures with her phone as the float she helped decorate paraded down Colorado Boulevard.

Maradian, who was born in Lebanon but culturally identifies as Armenian, said she wasn’t sure how the final product would turn out. Since she was busy working today, she thought she was going to miss the parade, but was lucky enough to spot it through the window at the bakery as it went down the street.

She said it looked even better than last year’s float, which she also helped decorate.

She felt proud working alongside other Armenians to design the float, Maradian said. She was able to participate on the design with her youth group from Saint Sarkis church.

She said she was delighted to be able to represent her culture in the Rose Parade. “People can finally know our culture and realize it isn’t as small as people assume,” she said.


Parade watchers use security barriers as makeshift viewing perches

At key intersections along the Rose Parade route, police placed orange and white water-filled barriers as an extra security measure in light of recent terrorist attacks.

Many viewers, particularly the vertically challenged, found them to be an excellent perch for parade-watching.

At one corner, Sofia Refai, of Sweden, and her 3-year-old daughter and 6-year-old niece stood atop a white barrier. Her sister, Suzanne Chouhoud of Pasadena, stood nearby with her “almost 8-year-old” daughter standing on an orange barricade.

The girls said they had a good view of the floats from their barriers.

“Oh, look at that!” Chouhoud said to the girls as a float with a gigantic yellow giraffe passed by. The girls, she said, were on the lookout for princesses and hoped there would be a Disney “Frozen” float like last year.

Refai said they climbed atop the barriers after seeing people do it at every corner. Otherwise, the girls wouldn’t be able to see.

Chouhoud said she’d read about the increased security measures this year but felt like she saw more officers last year.

Refai said she was recently reading about the Rose Parade in a Stockholm newspaper. “Everyone knows about it,” she said.

Refai said she was amused by the freezing Californians. She was wearing a sweater because her sister made her.

“I’m used to this cold,” she said, grinning. “This is like spring in Sweden.”

“It’s beautiful,” she said of the parade. “The atmosphere is so cheery. All the people are so happy.”


Scenes from Pasadena

Times photographers Francine Orr, Katie Falkenberg, Gina Ferrazi, Mel Melcon and Christina House bring you visuals from all along the 5.5-mile Rose Parade route. See their photos here>>


Olympic aspirations on full display


When you live along the Rose Parade route, you get ‘friends on parade day you forgot you had’

Nick, 70, and Corinne Papaioanu, 64, who live in a home that sits along the parade route, with their 9-year-old grandson.
(Alene Tchekmedyian / Los Angeles Times)

For more than six decades, Nick Papaioanu has watched Rose Parade floats roll by from feet away.

The 70-year-old doesn’t have much of a choice in the matter: He lives along the parade route, in a home his grandfather built in 1925.

“We tried to cancel it, but it didn’t work,” his son, Nathan Papaioanu, 37, joked.

It can be exhausting, but the older Papaioanu and his wife host family and friends every year and enjoy sharing the parade with first-timers.

“You do have a lot of friends on parade day you forgot you had,” said 64-year-old Corinne Papaioanu, chuckling. “They just show up. If they bring food, it’s OK.”

Even with a permanent front-row seat, she still records the parade on her television and watches it later in the day -- with a program in hand -- when the crowd leaves and it quiets down outside.

“I would never do this,” she said, gesturing to the campers outside her home. “Not when I could sit in my living room and watch.”

But for her husband, the view from home one year wasn’t close enough. That year, Nick Papaioanu spent the night sleeping next to a lamppost outside his home to save seats even closer to the action.

“I only lasted one year,” he said.

About 20 years ago, he started blocking his front yard with rope to prevent people from sleeping on his lawn, or burning a hole in his grass, which happened once when attendees cooked with a hibachi.

This year, he’s noticed heightened security and thinner crowds, which he attributed to the parade falling on a Monday, as well as recent terror attacks.


The Downey float is a labor of love -- and tears

Kelley Roberts jokes that it’s “stupidity” that drives him to volunteer at the Rose Parade every year. The 47-year-old construction chairman for the Downey Rose Float Assn. was crying from being around cinnamon all night -- the spice was used to decorate the frame of the city’s Gold Rush-themed float.

“Really, it’s the passion to see if you can take that picture and turn it into a 3-D reality,” he said.

Roberts, a Downey resident, got his start in the Rose Parade at the age of 10, when he defied his parents’ orders and snuck out of the house to help a neighbor decorate the Downey float that year, which he remembers featured a dragon.

“And the rest is Downey Rose float history,” Roberts said.

Downey’s float is one of only a handful at the parade that are entirely designed, built and decorated by volunteers. The process starts with submitting a design early in the year, getting it accepted and then fundraising- up to $90,000 some years, Roberts said. Flowers alone can cost $12,000 to $40,000, and then there’s the steel structure, welding supplies, foam, paint and glue.

A state employee by day, Roberts said he has worked on the Gold Rush float pretty much every evening since August. He designed and built the float’s roller coaster, which he planned to ride during the parade.

After the parade is over, Roberts said he will manage it on display near Pasadena High School. And in about two weeks, after the flowers have dried and crumbled, he will strip the float, tear it down and not look back.

He has next year to think about.


Surf’s up for these pups


These Penn State fans are ready for the game

At Colorado and De Lacey, four Penn State students cheered at the passing Rotary Foundation float, with a pink and purple dragon spewing steam out its nose.

The group sporting Penn State hoodies said they planned to attend the Rose Bowl game and tailgate.

They’d never been to the parade before and were excited to see the Penn State Blue Band marching.

“It’s so much better than TV,” said freshman Anna Herwig, 19. “I always watch it, but it’s so much more colorful and exciting in person.”

They figured they would have the more dedicated fan base at the game than USC’s — they had to take a five-hour plane ride when USC fans were only a drive away, they pointed out, laughing.

“We’re the best fan base,” Emily Fisher, also a freshman, said.

Asked if Penn State was going to win the game, they said, in unison, “Of COURSE!”


Parade viewing with friends from near and far, and omelettes to boot

Eileen Ruan stood bundled up behind a grill, cooking up Spanish omelettes.

Ruan and her group of 25 friends from Pasadena and neighboring cities arrived at noon on Sunday to stake out a spot, working in shifts to ensure they got a great view of the parade.

Each year they come prepared with lots of food and hot drinks, sharing with passers-by when they mistake the group for a coffee stand.

“Waiting for the parade, that’s the fun part. It’s when everyone gets together,” said Phyllis Wang, one of Ruan’s friends.

Wang, who in previous years sent pictures of the parade to friends in Northern China, said she was excited some of those friends were visiting this year and will be joining the group later to see it in person.

“When I send photos to my friends in China they say, ‘Oh my God, the sky is so blue,’” Wang said. “This year they get to see it for themselves.”


A feast for the eyes


‘Imagine driving your car down the street with a blindfold’: Behind the scenes on the Honda float

Leading the parade this year was a float by Honda, the presenting sponsor. Four behind-the-scenes operators were making the float tick.

Driver Roger Thomas sat about two-thirds of the way back, receiving directions via headset from an observer up front to navigate the hybrid Honda Accord motor. “Imagine driving your car down the street with a blindfold and your passenger telling you where to go,” said Thomas of the navigating challenge. “With a billion people watching. At 2 1/2 miles an hour.”

Thomas said operating the float is most stressful at the beginning. “Television is your audience — that’s your client,” he said. “And the rest of the parade is just fun.”

This was Thomas’ 38th year in the parade. He said he enjoys it because “it’s doing something no one else does.”

It’s also a family tradition. Thomas’ father, Gary Thomas, was president of the Tournament of Roses in 2003. His son, Brad, started helping him operate floats five years ago, at 16. This year, Brad was driving a float of his own.

Accompanying Thomas and the observer on the float were an animator, operating the float’s moving parts, and a “bird man,” who at two designated camera moments would release 50 white homing pigeons into the audience as part of the float’s “Hope Blooms Forever” theme.

Luthor Nelson, the so-called bird man and pigeons’ owner, said he expected the pigeons to make their way back to his home in Hacienda Heights in about 25 minutes.


...and we’re off! The 128th Rose Parade has begun

The parade will travel along a 5 1/2-mile route and is expected to last about two hours. Stay with us for live updates here.


All lined up and ready to go!


Skid row float will be a reminder of the less fortunate amid the festivities

The Union Rescue Mission now has more clients than at any time in its history. Its Rose Parade entry is meant to raise awareness.
(Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)

In 1891, a horse-drawn “gospel wagon” rolled onto the dirt streets of downtown Los Angeles offering “food, clothing and salvation” to saloon denizens.

This year, skid row’s Union Rescue Mission will make its first appearance in the Rose Parade. A group from the shelter will ride the route in a replica of the gospel wagon to highlight its 125th anniversary and serve as a reminder that poverty and addiction still accompany L.A.’s enviable climate and flora.

“We’re just hoping to raise awareness about people experiencing homelessness,” said the Rev. Andrew Bales, the mission’s chief executive.

California is in the middle of a housing crisis, and L.A. leads the nation in chronically homeless people, with nearly 13,000.

“We have stepped up as never before,” Bales said.

Read More


Waiting for the parade to begin

Grace Dreifuerst, 14, of Westlake High School in Austin, Texas, stays warm prior to marching in the 2017 Rose Parade.
(Christina House / For The Times)

All hail the (Rose) princess

As day began to break, an oversized picture of a young woman stood out among the crowds gathered along the parade route.

“That’s our cousin, and she’s one of the princesses,” Philip Cameron said, lying on his back on the sidewalk.

He came all the way from Minnesota to support his cousin, Audrey Cameron, a Rose princess.

For 99 years, the Rose Parade has been part of the Tournament of Roses, electing a Rose queen. There is also the Rose court, making up a group of seven young women between ages 17 and 21 from the Pasadena area.

Audrey’s younger brother Liam, 15, sat in a folding chair, waiting out the hours before his sister would ride by in a special float.

“She’s very well-rounded,” he said, referring to why she may have been chosen for the honor. “She does sports and community service. Otherwise, there’s a bit of luck.”


‘If we stop, then they win’

Bradley residents Victoria, 54, and David Villegas, 55, grew up watching the Rose Parade on television.
(Alene Tchekmedyian / Los Angeles Times)

Victoria Villegas and her husband, David, parents of seven children spread throughout California, chose to visit their daughter in Pasadena this year for one reason: to attend, for the first time, the parade they grew up watching on television.

“I feel like I’ve been here,” said Villegas, 54, who traveled down from Bradley, a tiny town in Central California. “New Year’s Day, that’s all you watched.”

Wrapped in sleeping bags and blankets, with their feet propped up on a cart storing their belongings, the couple said they’d considered bringing a portable heater but worried about security.

“We said if they see us with that propane tank, they’ll probably throw us out,” Villegas said with a laugh.

The couple noticed a strong police presence at the event that increased into the early morning hours, with several officers and deputies on foot chatting with parade-goers.

“I like how interactive they’ve been, they’ve been so friendly,” Villegas said.

The couple said terrorist attacks at public events, like the Boston Marathon bombing, did not discourage them from attending the event on their bucket list, but they are more vigilant now about their surroundings than they were in the past.

“Nothing’s stopped us,” Villegas said. “We’re still in that mentality of, ‘If we stop, then they win.’”


Security barriers doing double duty


Bleachers begin to fill up at the Rose Parade

(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Long way from Alabama

For Tina Robertson, attending the Rose Parade had always been a dream.

The Birmingham, Ala., resident recalled watching the parade on TV as a kid, and said it was her mother’s dream to one day come in person. She teared up and said that her coming to the parade was as much about seeing the flowers and floats as it was about honoring her mother’s life.

Robertson, in her 40s, arrived in California on Sunday afternoon with her son, Dakota Robertson, 24, and his girlfriend after an eight-hour road trip from Phoenix, where her son works as an engineer.

“It is very special to be able to do this,” she said. “I know my mom is watching over us.”


Whipping up breakfast along the parade route, security isn’t far from his mind

Clemente Palacios, 36, branch manager of a bank in Pasadena, stood on the sidewalk with his grill, whipping up a big pan of chorizo and eggs for 52 bank employees who eagerly awaited breakfast on rows of lawn chairs in front of him.

The smell of chorizo wafted over the crowd. It was a new grill, a Christmas gift from his parents.

“Best manager ever,” said a sheriff’s deputy standing near the bank. He said he wanted to hang around the area and get some of Clemente’s eggs.

Nearby, at the intersection of Colorado Boulevard and Madison Avenue, near a set of grandstands, were orange-and-white barriers -- thick, heavy and filled with water. Asked if security was a concern, Clemente nodded toward them and, after a pause, said, “Yes.”

“Those are new,” he said, pointing to the barriers just before 6 a.m..

He never considered not coming, though.

“It’s more sad than nerve-wracking because of the world we live in,” he said. “The terrorists’ new trick is driving trucks into crowds. But if we give into that, we lose. Unfortunately, something always happens in the world. What are we going to do? Stay in and stay under our blankets?”

Instead, he said laughing, they come out here and huddle under blankets.


‘Trying to pass on something good’: veteran parade-goers take newcomers under their wing

Felly Cervantes, 53, attended her first Rose Parade in 1990, just months after immigrating to California from Mexico.

She’s come every year since. Her annual tradition has grown to include more than 40 people -- friends she’s made over the years, children born along the way.

This year, she also took under her wing five strangers, first-time parade-goers she met in the wee hours and invited to keep warm around her portable fireplace.

“She’s sharing it with us,” said Norwalk resident Marilue Galindo, 41, whose in-laws found common ground with Cervantes, also having immigrated from Mexico.

Shortly after 5 a.m., a vendor selling chicken and cheese tamales wheeled her cart up to the group.

Galindo ordered two, one for herself and a second for her brother-in-law.

Cervantes, wearing a Santa hat with a blanket draped over her, passed. Her crew will soon bring chicken sandwiches and coffee.

“You gotta take care of your people, right?” said Duarte resident Jeremiah Archila, 49, who invited Cervantes and her husband to their first parade.

“I used to come with my little girls, now they bring boyfriends,” Archila said. “Pretty soon they’re going to bring their own kids -- trying to pass on something good.”


The tow-truck wakeup call and other traditions along the parade route

Maria Pacheco, 37, and husband Jose Villagrana, 41, grew up in Pasadena and always wanted to camp out along the parade route as kids, but never got to.

Now, they make it a tradition with their three children, two boys ages 16 and 12, and an 8-year-old girl. This year, they staked out their spot near the intersection of Colorado Boulevard. and Oak Knoll Avenue since 6 a.m. Sunday.

“We try and say, ‘No, we’re not going to do it this year,’ but they don’t take no for an answer,” Maria said, laughing.

They said knew about the added security this year, but they didn’t think twice about coming. They also watched the weather and said they lucked out -- they only got sprinkled on a little bit Sunday night.

At 5:39 a.m., more than a dozen tow trucks, headlights on, paraded down Colorado, horns blaring. A man in one of them yelled, “Good morning!”

“The wakeup call!” Jose said. “They do it every year.” He then pumped his arm at one of the trucks, grinning and trying to get it to honk.


44-year tradition, started by his father


Heightened security along Rose Parade route

Sheriff's deputies patrol Colorado Boulevard early Monday morning before the start of the Rose Parade in Pasadena. Heightened security measures are being taken along the parade route.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Three trucks, 12 air mattresses, one 24-hour bathroom: this church group knows how it’s done

Skylar Lloyd, left, and Cam Jarman, both 12, eat cotton candy as Michelle Youngblood, center, settles in comfortably on an air mattress along Colorado Boulevard.
(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

A crisp chill could be felt along Colorado Boulevard in the hours before the Rose Parade began, as temperatures dipped into the 40s.

But the ever-prepared members of Fullerton’s New Wine Church were ready: lining up air mattresses back to back — an essential shield to ward off the frigid bite of the sidewalk from sheets and blankets.

“We left from church, and came out here by 11 to get a spot,” said Bennie Howlin.

“We try to get this spot every year because there’s a 24-hour movie theater, a 24-hour Rite Aid with a restroom that the kids can go to and the stands are right there.”

Howlin’s group, made up of 25 or so church members — “plus a family of five on the way” — brought out 12 air mattresses plus a cot and staked out Colorado Boulevard by Wilson Avenue with the assistance of three trucks and a church van, which were parked behind Citizens National bank for $25 per vehicle, “so not too bad,” said Howlin. “That’s a good deal for us.”

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Staying warm and snug: Rose Parade campers braved overnight temps in the 40s


Photos: See the floats before they hit the parade route

Volunteer Heather Turcios applies nyjer seeds to the head of Pele the fire goddess while working on the Rose Parade float sponsored by Dole Packaged Foods under construction at Fiesta Parade Floats.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
Volunteer Kathi Smith uses glue to apply crushed white rice onto a blue tang fish for a float sponsored by the Lucy Pet Foundation under construction at Fiesta Parade Floats in Irwindale.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

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For just the 15th time in 128 years, the Rose Parade takes place on a Monday

Artist Marcus Pollitz readies a dolphin on a float for the 128th Rose Parade, which moved to to Monday instead of New Year's Day, which fell on a Sunday.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Thanks to a 19th century “Never on Sunday” rule, the Rose Parade appears to have avoided a wet forecast for New Year’s Day.

The parade never has been, nor will be, delayed for rain, officials say. But a custom of shifting the parade a day later when New Year’s Day falls on a Sunday began in 1893 to avoid riling the horses hitched outside church and possibly disrupting the services inside.

Due to this shift, the parade appears to have avoided rain that had been forecast for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

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Rose Parade plans new security measure: Truck-blocking barriers

Pasadena Police Chief Phillip Sanchez, flanked by Special Agent in Charge Rob Savage of the U.S. Secret Service, left, and Pasadena Fire Chief Bertral Washington, discuss Rose Parade security.
(Maya Lau / Los Angeles Times)

Police plan to use parked patrol cars and heavy, water-filled barricades at key crossings along the 5.5-mile Tournament of Roses parade route in response to recent terrorist attacks that used trucks as weapons.

In announcing the new security measures recently, Pasadena Police Chief Phillip L. Sanchez stressed there was no known threat to the parade, the Rose Bowl game or the city of Pasadena. But he said the changes were made in an abundance of caution, adding that parade security is frequently tweaked as terrorism tactics and threats evolve.

The barriers will be placed at more than 50 intersections along the route.

“When [attackers] use vehicles as a ramming tool, typically it’s because they’re able to generate a lot of speed. So we’re trying to take the speed out of that equation,” Sanchez said.

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