Thousands gathered under clear, blue skies Monday for Pasadena’s yearly spectacle of fantastical floral floats, high-stepping marching bands and colorful equestrian units.
Themed “Just Imagine,” the 123rd Tournament of Roses Parade was expected to attract more than 150,000 visitors this year. The parade is being held on Jan. 2 instead of the traditional Jan. 1 because the parade is not held on Sundays.
The event this year was punctuated by a demonstration: The group Occupy the Rose Parade carried signs drawing attention to their cause of income inequality, and dozens of protesters planned to march at the end of the parade with an Occupy Octopus “live” float constructed of plastic bags.
That prospect appeared not to dent the enthusiasm of thousands of parade-goers, many of whom spent the night camped out on air mattresses and in sleeping bags to claim coveted positions along the 5 1/2-mile parade route.
The 123rd annual Rose Parade featured 44 floats, 21 marching bands and 20 equestrian troupes marching the 5.5 mile route through the heart of Pasadena. The event draws participants and viewers from around the world, and several cities in the region are hives of activity in advance of the big day.
Burbank, Glendale, La Canada Flintridge and South Pasadena are among the local cities that sponsor floats. The mayor of also rides on a float.
Some of those cities are represented on this year’s Rose Court, the group of seven young women who will represent the Tournament of Roses at events and receptions throughout the year. Pasadena native Drew Washington, 16, a student at Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy in La Canada, is this year’s Rose Queen.
J.R. Martinez, a decorated veteran of the Iraq war and a champion on “Dancing with the Stars,” is the parade’s grand marshal.
Several local high school marching bands and a Pasadena City College ensemble are among those scheduled to perform.
The Rose Parade and Rose Bowl game generate $180 million in economic activity, according to Tournament of Roses officials, ranging from the corporate sponsorship of individual floats and the football game to money spent in the region by the estimated 800,000 visitors who come for the game or the parade. This year’s game, which kicks off after the parade is over, is a clash between the University of Oregon Ducks and the University of Wisconsin Badgers.
Photo: Rose Queen Drew Washington and members of the Royal Court ride in the Macy’s “Presenting the Royal Court,” float. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times
-- Bill Kisliuk, Times Community News
The Los Angeles Times contributed to this report.