PASADENA — The 129th Rose Parade stepped off on time in a peaceful and festive Pasadena Jan. 1, with 24 awards given to floats and a B-2 bomber soaring overhead.
The Sweepstakes Award, for most beautiful entry, encompassing float design, floral presentation and entertainment, went to a Pasadena investment firm, Singpoli American BD, for its “Rising Above Paradise.”
It was a quiet night in Pasadena, as quiet as could be expected with tens of thousands of people on Colorado Boulevard and side streets, both welcoming the New Year and staking out prized parade viewing concrete.
Actor Gary Sinise, best known for his role as Lt. Dan Taylor in “Forrest Gump,” served as grand marshal of the 5 1/2-mile procession.
“The 2018 theme ‘Making a Difference’ is a way to honor and celebrate all of the people in our communities who quietly and without desire for reward or recognition, act in selfless, generous and kind ways to aid or benefit others,” Tournament of Roses President Lance Tibbet said. “Gary Sinise is absolutely one of those people. Gary’s humanitarian work with our defenders, veterans, first responders and their families over the years embodies our theme to the fullest.”
The parade featured 39 floral-covered floats, 20 equestrian groups and 20 marching bands — along with the marching bands from Oklahoma University and the University of Georgia, the teams that competed in the Rose Bowl following the parade.
Among the marching bands taking part were Australia’s Marching Koalas; Kyoto Tachibana High School from Kyoto, Japan; Banda De Musica Herberto Lopez of Panama; the Los Angeles Unified School District All District High School Honor Band; the U.S. Marine Corps West Coast Composite Band; and the Burlington Teen Tour Band from Burlington, Canada.
La Salle High School senior Isabella Marie Marez, 18, presided over the festivities as this year’s Rose Queen. She was accompanied by the six members of her Royal Court: Alexandra Marie Artura, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy; Savannah Rose Bradley, Pasadena High School; Lauren Elizabeth Buehner, Arcadia High School; Georgia Jane Cervenka, La Canada High School; Julianne Elise Lauenstein, La Canada High School; and Sydney Grace Pickering, Arcadia High School.
The highlight of the parade, however, is always the array of intricately designed and decorated floats. This year’s lineup includes floats sponsored by a variety of Southland cities, along with groups and companies including the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Honda, Dole Packaged Foods, Kaiser Permanente, Lucy Pet, Trader Joe’s and Shriner’s Hospital for Children.
The Donate Life float, an annual fixture in the parade, will again pay tribute to organ donors. Among those riding on the float will be baseball Hall of Famer Rod Carew, who received a heart and kidney from the late NFL tight end Konrad Reuland, and former NFL quarterback and coach Sam Wyche, who received a heart just hours before being placed in hospice care.
A float by the United Sikh Mission featured a replica of the world’s largest free kitchen, which is located at the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India.