I’ve watched the Tournament of Roses Parade nearly every year on TV. It’s a family tradition. My parents and I get up early to watch the parade and comment on the flower-covered floats that pass by. It’s a famous parade in our city, Pasadena, so it feels like it’s our parade. I’ve always wanted to sleep out on the Rose Parade route the night before to have a front-row seat. This year I finally did it. It’s spectacular in person. Plus, camping out is Pasadena’s really fun five-mile block party.
The Rose Parade is Pasadena’s pride and joy. The parade is broadcast worldwide on New Year’s Day, or Jan. 2 if New Year’s falls on a Sunday, like it did this year. Throughout the year there are signs about it, floats are designed and built, and in October the Rose Court is assembled. I even tried out for princess but didn’t make it past the first round.
In October I decided I wanted to sleep out on the parade route. So I made a Facebook group and invited some friends. In the end three people could come. My mom was annoyed that she had to chaperone because she doesn’t like being cold, but she had to because of curfew laws that say anyone under 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
We planned to get there at 7 p.m. At 2 p.m. my mom and I drove up and down Colorado Boulevard and realized we needed to get a spot right away because it was already really crowded. We went home and started packing. I packed a blanket, my jacket, a T-shirt, my sleeping bag and my camera. I later posted on Facebook where we were on the route.
My friend Arnold arrived at our site at 5:30 p.m., and Abbey and Eleanor arrived at 7:30. We set up camp and decided to walk around to pass the time. We went to Walgreens and had fun throwing stuffed animals at each other. Later, we went back to the campsite and listened to music.
We went crazy with the silly string
We all bought cans of silly string from the vendors walking up and down the street. We silly stringed each other, we silly stringed cars and we silly stringed the people next to us. We made up a game and decided to give five points if you hit a car and 10 points if you got the silly string inside the car. It’s an old Pasadena tradition to throw harmless things at cars the night before the parade. Cars drove by caked in silly string, whipped cream and tortillas.
At midnight, Abbey went to sleep. The rest of us walked to the comic book store about three miles away but it was understandably closed. Then I went to bed, but Arnold and Eleanor weren’t sleepy. So they walked to Arnold’s house to get his guitars and came back around 3 a.m.
At 11 p.m. you’re allowed to move your stuff up to the blue line on the street, which is about six feet from the curb, so there’s more room for other people. It was cold and hard to fall asleep because there were two streetlights shining in our eyes and irritating kids blowing horns. At about 5 a.m. when I was half asleep, a pickup truck drove by really close to my head. I gave up trying to sleep. When we were all up, we went to the taco truck to get coffee and breakfast. I was sleepy but I was excited for the parade to start.
More people started arriving at 5 a.m. and by 8 it was packed. People were lining up behind people who had slept out, and more people lined up behind them. Silly string fights were breaking out in the street. The parade started at 8 and at around 8:45 it got to us. My favorite was the color guards—how graceful they are, especially when they toss their flags in the air. You get to see things you don’t see on TV, like the pooper scoopers who follow the equestrian teams and how all of the floats are different sizes. The Trader Joe’s float was so big we had to arch our necks to see the top of it. The people on the floats wave and say “Happy New Year” to you, so it’s a more personal experience.
Two hours later when it was over, we packed up and left. I was tired from the long night, but I was happy that I had seen it live.