First, let me apologize to our visitors from the Midwest for this improbable cold snap. Pasadena rarely has this much frost on the window panes. The other night, I went down to the wine cellar and found the Pinot Grigio at an almost undrinkable 38 degrees.
As you can imagine, keeping our hogs fed and the cows milked in such harsh conditions has been a real challenge. By the grace of God, we’ll push through. In Pasadena, we’re known for our grit during difficult circumstances.
Welcome. But let us warn you that Pasadena is not all it seems. There is no lake on Lake Avenue; don’t even bother looking. Coyotes run loose everywhere; they’re almost like pets. At sunset, the trees fill with these Day-Glo green feral parrots that seem to come out of nowhere and now threaten to take over the entire San Gabriel Valley.
That’s probably why, in Pasadena, we live like there’s no tomorrow. It’s the parrots. And the unforgiving winters. And the mostly forgettable food. In Pasadena, only the strong survive. And we trust you Hawkeyes fans will too.
Workers carry fresh flowers to finish floats for the Rose Parade in a warehouse in Irwindale, Calif.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Lorraine Matza of North Hollywood blows on wet glue to dry the moss she just applied to a hummingbird on the Kaiser float for the Rose Parade in a warehouse in Irwindale, Calif.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Workers and volunteers hustle to finish floats for the Rose Parade in a warehouse in Irwindale, Calif.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Hannah Tsai works on a bird decoration during the building of Rose Parade floats in Irwindale, Calif.(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)
Volunteers work on float decorations.(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)
Volunteers work on the California Milk float.(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)
Volunteers at work.(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)
Students from Arroyo High School volunteer their time decorating the Kiehl’s float.(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)
Susan Ishkanian puts together a floral arrangement for a float from the TV show “The Bachelor.”(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)
When all else fails, head over to the 35er, a dive bar on Colorado Boulevard that doubles as our emergency preparedness shelter. Sticky old saloons are where the locals meet up during enemy attacks, or when stock portfolios plunge. Or after stuffy debutante dinners.
Yes, we still have debutantes here — like coyotes, they run freely in the streets. Meanwhile, churches and libraries line almost every street. In the summer, you’ll still see the occasional seersucker suit.
You’ll find that Pasadena is a deeply traditional city, leery of wicked impulses or primal encounters. It’s where people come when the bright lights of Glendale get to be too much.
To mark your visit, we have decided to stage a little parade. It will start three hours before you wake up on New Year’s morning, and last for approximately two months.
It’s a pretty parade, virtually always the same. Hundreds of thousands of spectators show up anyway. In a nutshell, that explains Pasadena.
Unknown to many, sports has played a major role in Pasadena’s development into a world-class destination. The great Jackie Robinson grew up here, on a scruffy little street near the stadium itself.
There’s also this annual bowl game, of course, and the Wrigley family, which once owned the Chicago Cubs, used to winter here. The 21-room mansion the old man built for his wife, Ada, is now the Rose Bowl headquarters.
The only other conceivable reason would be to honor Kobe Bryant, who — like our parade — has been around since the dawn of time.
The Lakers deny this. The other night Jeanie Buss stood outside the tent where the float is being built and insisted —- as demurely as a debutante — that Kobe would not be aboard the Lakers float because he has a game that night.
“He’s gotta ride in the parade, Jeanie,” I said. “Why else would you do this now?”
Yes, there is a game. It’s at night, 7:30. Hours and hours and hours after the end of the parade. For him not to ride is nonsensical.
So there’s that to look forward to. Wait till you see the reaction to Kobe. You would think that he personally ended the drought, polio, communism, and drove away all those screechy wild parrots.
See what you think. To me, the Lakers float looks like a medical instrument, something that they use to prod you or take an internal temperature.
I like that in a float.
“Every Second Is an Adventure” is the float’s name. I don’t see any irony there; I see only hope.
Also keep an eye out for a big basketball topped with orange lentils. It’ll be easy to spot as it circles the rim — teasing, tempting, circling, teasing, tempting.…
Will it go in? Will it fall out? Will Kobe be aboard? Will Kobe fall out?
These are the issues we obsess over here as we begin the new year.
Thanks for joining us.