Appreciating all that makes America special

Americana: Rose Parade


Elaborate flower-covered floats and marching bands didn't enter the minds of parade organizers when the first Rose Parade was held back in 1890. Uploaded by

If you happened to have been in Pasadena in 1890 (Anyone? Anyone?), you could have been one of the 2,000 or so people who saw a number of horse-drawn carriages covered in flowers. No floats, no cars, no marching bands. But you’d have been a witness to the start one of America’s most-beloved New Year’s Day traditions. (Unless that happens to fall on Sunday, in which case it’s a day-after-New-Year’s-Day tradition.)

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If you’d been there on January 1, 2011, you’d have witnessed a much more elaborate spectacle. Beginning with the flyover of a B-2 Stealth Bomber, and grand marshal Paula Deen, y’all. You’d have witnessed 42 flower-covered floats, heard 22 marching bands, and prayed that none of the 22 equestrian units decided to lighten its load in front of you.

Of course, you didn’t have to go to Pasadena to see this spectacle. You could have been one of the millions who watched on ABC, NBC, Hallmark, HGTV, or Univision. Or been one of several hundred million people who tuned in live around the globe. The Rose Parade is truly a spectacle in all the good senses of that word — quite a difference from what the city fathers of Pasadena envisioned back in the late nineteenth century…


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