2019 Rose Parade has 40 floats, 21 marching bands and a proud Jewish, LGBTQ queen
“Service Rocks” was by the Rotary Rose Parade Float Committee and included a towering crocodile.(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)
The UPS Store float, ‘Books Keep Us On Our Toes’ rolls past the spectators on Orange Grove Boulevard during the 130th Rose Parade in Pasadena.(Mark Boster / For The Times)
The American Legion’s “Still Serving America” float was accompanied by fireworks as it made its way along Orange Grove Boulevard in Pasadena.(Mark Boster / For The Times)
An estimated 700,000 spectators, braving chilly and windy weather, line the streets of Pasadena to view the floats, marching bands and equestrian groups in the 130th Rose Parade in Pasadena.(Mark Boster / For The Times)
The Cal Poly Universities float, “Far Out Frequencies," cruises past parade-goers.(Mark Boster / For The Times)
The genie is let out of the wine bottle on the Stella Rosa float. The figure’s brown hair was created from flaxseed. Flesh tones are a blend of crushed walnut shell, cornmeal and paprika spice, with green split peas for her eyes and rose petals for her lips.(Nick Agro / For The Times)
Artist <a href="https://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-rose-parade-marshall-20181017-story.html” target="_blank">Chaka Khan, grand marshal,</a> performs at the 2019 parade.(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)
<a href="https://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-rose-parade-2019-small-fire-disables-float-1546365888-htmlstory.html” target="_blank">A small fire disabled the float</a> from the Chinese American Heritage Foundation, temporarily halting the parade’s progress Tuesday morning. Crowds on Colorado Boulevard surround the marooned entry.(Mark Boster / For The Times)
Parade participants hold umbrellas during the 2019 RoseParade along Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena.(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)
The Flower Mound High School marching band performs during the 2019 RoseParade along Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena.(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)
The Northwestern Mutual float passes by during the 2019 Rose Parade along Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena.(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)
The 24 Hour Fitness float passes by during the 2019 Rose Parade along Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena.(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)
The Tournament of Roses royal court, with Rose Queen Louise Deser Siskel, center, wave from their float. Siskel wrote about some of what made her a unique choice for the role in the Los Angeles Times: <a href="https://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-siskel-rose-queen-20181231-story.html” target="_blank">"I am Jewish. I wear glasses. I am bisexual -- and I’m the Rose Queen"</a>(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)
The UPS Store’s float was titled, “Books Keep Us On Our Toes.”(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)
The Los Hermanos Bañuelos Charro Team, from Altadena, participates in the Rose Parade.(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)
Banda Municipal de Acosta performs along Orange Grove Boulevard in Pasadena.(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)
Kool & the Gang were featured on the float by Stella Rosa.(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)
Representating L.A. was the Los Angeles Unified School District All District High School Honor Band.(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)
A performer from the China Airlines float “Rhythms of Taiwan.”(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)
The Goodyear blimp is seen in the skies above the Carnival Cruise Line float “Come Sail Away” -- which itself included a replica of the Carnival AirShip.(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)
Parade-goers filled Colorado Boulevard, mistakenly thinking the event had ended, after a <a href="https://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-rose-parade-2019-small-fire-disables-float-1546365888-htmlstory.html” target="_blank">float malfunctioned and jammed parade traffic</a>.(Nick Agro / For The Times)
<a href="https://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-siskel-rose-queen-20181231-story.html” target="_blank">Rose Queen Louise Deser Siskel</a> presides over the 2019 Rose Parade.(Mark Boster / For The Times)
Performers on the China Airlines float entertain the crowd at the annual Rose Parade in Pasadena.(Nick Agro / For The Times)
The Alabama State marching band performs; drums show the theme of this year’s Rose Parade.(Nick Agro / For The Times)
Parade fans stand on the roofs of buildings along the Pasadena parade route to get a better view of the proceedings.(Nick Agro / For The Times)
A century of the American Legion is celebrated with the organization’s float at the 130th parade in Pasadena.(Nick Agro / For The Times)
Georgia Wolfe, left, and Jana Hinojosa show their Washington Huskies pride while taking in the Rose Parade. Hinojosa said she was born during the Rose Bowl in 1960 when the Huskies defeated Wisconsin.(Nick Agro / For The Times)
Viewing the 130th Rose Parade from a balcony along Colorado Boulevard.(Nick Agro / For The Times)
Parade-goers lined the 5.5-mile route Tuesday morning in Pasadena.(Nick Agro / For The Times)
A B-2 stealth bomber does a parade fly-over while the Goodyear blimp floats by during the New Year’s Day parade.(Nick Agro / For The Times)
Kathleen Welo and Andrew Welo were in town from Colorado to see Ohio State play at the Rose Bowl and kicked off their day with the Rose Parade.(Nick Agro / For The Times)
It was a multiple-blanket morning along the 2019 Rose Parade route.(Nick Agro / For The Times)
Christopher Salut bundles up with his dog, Tabitha, on the parade route.(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)
In the early-morning hours of New Year’s Day, 2019 Rose Parade fans line up along Colorado Boulevard at Marengo Avenue in Pasadena.(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)
The Stella Rosa entry is completed Saturday in Irwindale. “Taste the Magic” featured longtime music group Kool & the Gang at Tuesday’s Rose Parade.(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)
Overnight campers keep warm with the help of a small fire in their staked-out spot on Colorado Boulevard. Rose Parade fans faced a chilly night, with <a href="https://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-new-years-wind-20181231-story.html">temperatures expected to be in the 30s</a>.(Mark Boster / For the Times)
Jennifer Callamaras and daughter Kailley Callamaras of San Diego spent Saturday working on the UPS Store’s “Books Keep Us on Our Toes” float, which was being built at Fiesta Parade Floats in Irwindale.(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)
Marcello Lopez, of Bell, spends New Year’s Eve 2018 bundled up in his chair on Colorado Boulevard.(Mark Boster / For the Times)
Tara Riddick, of Phelan, decorates a parrot for Dole Packaged Foods’ “Rhythm of Paradise” float at Fiesta Parade Floats in Irwindale on Saturday.(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)
Workers get the Easterseals float ready for the main event. The organization has said the float will celebrate its 100th anniversary of helping the disabled.(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)
A crew of workers adds finishing touches to Carnival Cruise Line’s “Come Sail Away” float at the float-building facility in Irwindale on Saturday.(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)
Kristiana Budke, 16, of Santa Barbara, center, and Jeri Ratcliff of El Dorado, Ark., help with Donate Life’s float, titled “Rhythm of the Heart,” at Fiesta Parade Floats in Irwindale on Saturday.(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)
A young woman works on the Carnival Cruise Line’s “Come Sail Away” float at Fiesta Parade Floats in Irwindale on Saturday.(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)
Kat Anderson takes a break from applying rye grass seeds to a brown bear figure that is part of the float titled “Play, Rest, Repeat,” sponsored by the city of Big Bear Lake, under construction Saturday at Fiesta Parade Floats in Irwindale.(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
Tammi Loveland, of Temple City, adheres dendrobium orchids to Dole Packaged Foods’ “Rhythm of Paradise” float at Fiesta Parade Floats in Irwindale on Saturday.(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)
Dole Packaged Foods’ float is under construction at Fiesta Parade Floats in Irwindale on Saturday, hinting at the finished product, which on Tuesday won the Wrigley Legacy award for “most outstanding display of floral presentation, float design and entertainment.”(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)
Sahana Sri, left, gets a high five while helping to create Easterseals’ float.(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
Cousins Indiana Langford, 14, of San Diego, and Loralei Langford, 12, of Sacramento, are part of the crew working on “Books Keep Us On Our Toes” in Irwindale on Saturday.(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)
Darrell Fan, of Glendora, uses a sponge for detail work on the lion-themed float sponsored by Lions Club International, under construction in Irwindale.(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
Annie Zhao, a student at Schurr High School in Montebello, works with classmates in applying yellow strawflowers to the Farmers Insurance float titled, “A Carousel Of Experience.”(mel melcon / Los Angeles Times)
Pampas grass is used to create the fur for a short-haired dog as Margaret Nix, right, and other volunteers work on the Farmers Insurance float, “A Carousel of Experience,” at Phoenix Decorating Co.(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
Orange crush roses and purple moonstruck carnations are part of the flowers used to decorate the floats under construction for the 2019 Rose Parade at Fiesta Parade Floats in Irwindale.(mel melcon / Los Angeles Times)
Marlene Perez, left, and Kassadey Delgado glue carnations into position on the Rose Parade Closing Unit float sponsored by Wells Fargo, under construction at Phoenix Decorating Company in Irwindale.(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
The Stella Rosa float, left, and the Dole float as they are under construction at the Fiesta Parade Floats facility in Irwindale.(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)
A daughter and her mom get direction on where to apply silver leaf to the propeller section of the ship-themed float “Ride Captain Ride,” sponsored by Trader Joe’s and under construction Saturday at Phoenix Decorating Co. in Irwindale.(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
Joshua Lopez, left, Johnny Cruz and, at bottom, Jonathan Naples work on a crocodile-themed float titled “Service Rocks,” sponsored by Rotary International. The float is under construction at Phoenix Decorating Co. in Irwindale.(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
A worker at Rosemont Pavilion fills a vial with water. The vials help keep flowers fresh until they are placed on Rose Parade floats in the final days of decorating.(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)
The 2019 Rose Parade rolled out Tuesday morning in familiar, comforting and decorative style, along with a twist of newness.
Among the fresh touches were a grand marshal, Chaka Khan, who sang in the new year as the parade opened, and 101st Rose Queen Louise Deser Siskel, a future scientist in glasses who has proudly shared being Jewish and bisexual.
The familiar heart of the Pasadena event brought together 40 floats, 21 marching bands and 18 equestrian units. The parade also served as a prelude to the Rose Bowl, this year pitting the Washington Huskies against the Ohio State Buckeyes.
As it often does, the weather dawned clear and bright — like the postcard-style real estate promotion the parade was once intended to be. That sunshine followed a chilly night for campers along the 5.5-mile route. Overnight winds had been forecast to range from 25 to 45 mph, with gusts up to 65 mph. Temperatures dipped to the high 30s — not a record cold, but a chill made worse by the wind.
With people stoking fires to keep warm, firefighters patrolled for windblown embers.
Those who endured it were the type to make the best of it.
Christina Carreon of Whittier arrived around 8:30 p.m., planning to set up under some bleachers when she noticed the view from her truck wasn’t too bad — she and husband Rudy Cervantes had a direct line of sight to where the floats would come by.
So as scores of campers set up air mattresses, hammocks, cots or sleeping bags, the couple squeezed their air mattress into the back of the pickup.
Then Cervantes pitched the top of their tent above the truck bed, creating a cave-like shelter off the ground.
The couple began camping out along the parade route three years ago.
The floats were assembled with as many natural materials as possible, with a sweeping palette of colors, but the rainbow also was cultural.
The high school band from Flower Mound, Texas, took part and so did Na Koa Ali`I, Hawaii’s all-state marching band from Kaneohe. They were joined by the All-Izumo Honor Green Band from Japan and the Banda Escolar from Guayanilla, Puerto Rico.
U.S. Forest Service pack mules defied the federal government shutdown to plod with dignity down Colorado Boulevard. Their mission was to mark the 75th “birthday” of Smokey Bear, who was created to spread the message of forest fire prevention.
Other equestrian participants included the Norco Cowgirls Rodeo Drill Team and Little Miss Norco Cowgirls Jr. Drill Team, and the Mini Therapy Horses from Calabasas.
The flotilla of floats has evolved from assorted histories and motivations. For Cal Poly Pomona and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, float construction has become an annual exercise in student entrepreneurship and artistry, with 90% of the flowers grown locally.
Certain cities and causes are represented year after year. Burbank has entered a float since 1914 and seized upon this year’s “Melody of Life” theme to present animated characters playing instruments in its “Stompin Good Time.”
The Chinese American Heritage Foundation presented a 90-foot float to commemorate the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad, basing its design on a photograph taken at Promontory Point, Utah, on May 10, 1869. The entry depicted two locomotives facing each other and was decorated with more than 12,000 roses and 3,500 orchid florets. The locomotives were re-created with “glossy black seaweed, velvety black onion and gray poppy seed, blue sinuata statice blossoms and red cranberry seed,” according to an official description.
But unlike its historic inspiration, the mechanicals were comparatively overlooked — the float stalled, causing a jam and forcing other entries to squeeze around. A tow truck intervention was required.
The Donate Life float extolled the mission of organ donation for the 16th year and showcased the musical diversity and rhythms of Africa.
The float displayed gigantic replicas of African drums: the djembe from Senegal and Kuba drums from the Congo. Other featured traditional instruments were a marimba from Ghana and a kora from Burkina Faso. More to the point, perhaps, the float also incorporated 44 floral portraits honoring deceased donors.
Overlooking the portraits was a double Senufo mask from the Ivory Coast “that gives thanks to ancestors and remembers those who have gone before,” according to the float sponsors. “The double face suggests male and female, past and present generations, as well as the interconnectedness of all of those who have been touched by the power of donation.”
Twenty-six living donors or transplant recipients rode or walked beside the float.
The parade is all about boosterism in the form of forgivable, celebratory spectacle. Carnival’s Rose Parade float featured divers and a replica of the cruise line’s new California-based ship, the Panorama.
Blue Diamond entered its first float to promote almond milk.
Another first-time entry came from the restaurant chain Chipotle, which hopes for a goodwill boost five months after more than 600 people came down with food poisoning after eating at a Chipotle in Ohio.
The float featured a giant red tractor to symbolize the work of farms. On the float were growers and suppliers of ingredients for Chipotle restaurants as well as the rock band Portugal. The Man.
The “Cultivate a Better World” float was crafted with ingredients served in Chipotle restaurants, including about 200 pounds of chili flakes to cover the tractor; ground onion seeds for the tires; cumin, cloves, oregano and bay leaves covering the cart; ground white rice for lettering and 100 pounds of lemons hanging in trees — all destined to be recycled as compost.
Another goal of the parade in recent years has been to respond to the diversity of Southern California.
The first African American rose queen was named in 1985. The Tournament of Roses had its first female president in 2006. The first African American president, Gerald Freeny, is serving this year.
Freeny, in a TV interview Tuesday, credited his daughter with suggesting the parade theme. A Pasadena native, he started watching at age 5. He began volunteering in 1988.
“When I first joined I never thought I’d be president,” Freeny said.
There’s still a queen, and she’s a high school senior at a tony private school in Pasadena. Siskel, this year’s honoree, and the members of her court have attended some 120 social events in their ceremonial role. For the parade, she broke from tradition by wearing glasses. In another departure, Siskel wore the same dress, a lacy purple gown, as the young women who were runners-up.
“It was a decision we all made in order to show unity on the float today,” Siskel said in a Tuesday morning television interview.
In an op-ed in The Times, Siskel noted the importance of the platform she has.
She described herself as “the first Rose Queen to talk about being Jewish. I feel an additional responsibility, to myself and to this tradition, to share that I am bisexual.”
“While I am almost certainly not the first member of the LGBTQ community on the court,” she wrote, “I hope that by saying so publicly, I might encourage others to be proud of who they are.”
For Armando Hurtado, the parade was about watching his daughter perform in the Pasadena City College Honor Band and communing with those around him.
“People don’t see race here,” Hurtado said. “Everyone is here for one purpose, to bring in the new year.”
He added: “You don’t see people coming together a lot. This is one event where that happens.”
Waiting on the sidewalk as the sun rose behind them, Hurtado and his wife Pamela met Moises Moran, who was there for his 12th parade with his two kids, 11 and 8.
The heater Moran had brought to attach to his propane tank wasn’t working, so the men sitting next to Moran lent him theirs.
The stories shaping California
Get up to speed with our Essential California newsletter, sent six days a week.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.