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Category: December 2009

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Spectators on Colorado Boulevard begin counting down to the new year

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As spectators on Colorado Boulevard began counting down to the new year, mischief, fun and fatigue began to spread. 

Kids squirted silly string and tossed whipped cream pies at passing cars. Late-night club-goers tottered out of doors in zebra-print stilettos. Others began nodding off.

Police activity along the parade route was largely calm, except for a fight late this evening involving at least three teenage males who knocked over some spectators' chairs as they attempted -- and failed -- to elude police. The teenagers, who were questioned on Colorado Boulevard just east of Fair Oaks Avenue, were not arrested.

Eight young men from Ohio played "Corn Hole" on the corner of Raymond Avenue just south of Colorado Boulevard, tossing beanbags 10 feet away through a board with a hole cut in it. “It’s a Midwest thing,” said Brad Watkins, 22. “People look at us like we’re weird here.” 

Watkins and seven other buddies drove 2,600 miles in a Chevy minivan to land a spot on the parade route. 

“We blew a tire on an Indian reservation in Nevada, and we’ve been eating cookies and ham sandwiches the whole time,” said Joshua Sigler, 22. The group dreamed up the trip once they knew their home team, Ohio State, was on its way to the Rose Bowl to compete against the Oregon Ducks. 

-- Amina Khan, reporting from Pasadena

Photo: Brian Bautista, 11, of Irvine manages to catch some sleep next to a busy Pasadena street while waiting for Friday's Rose Parade. Credit: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times

Related:

More LA Now posts on the Rose Parade

Guide to the Rose Parade

Photos: Rose Parade preparations

Map: Rose Parade route

Rose Parade faithful face 'turf war' and the night chill

Rose Parade visitors urged to take the Gold Line

Tour bus crashes near Rose Parade float viewing area

Rose Parade fans steak out their favorite curbside spot

Rose Parade weather will be good; traffic, not so much

El Monte school board member slain in Mexico

 
Bobbysalcedo A 33-year-old El Monte school board member and five other men were shot dead execution-style in north central Mexico on Wednesday night, after they were abducted by gunmen, according to family members.

Agustin Roberto “Bobby” Salcedo was having dinner with his wife in a restaurant when armed men burst in and kidnapped Salcedo and five other men. All six were found dead Thursday, El Monte officials said. Salcedo’s wife was not abducted.

Salcedo, who was also the assistant principal of instruction at El Monte High School, had arrived in the Mexican city of Gomez Palacio earlier this week. The city of 240,000 is in the state of Durango and is the hometown of Salcedo’s wife, Betzy.

Salcedo, who was born and raised in the Los Angeles area, and his wife were dining with some of her former classmates when the attack occurred, said Salcedo’s brother, Carlos.

“They ordered everyone to the floor. They threatened to shoot them all if anyone dared to look up. They abducted the men,” Carlos Salcedo said. “Their whereabouts were unknown until the police chief informed my sister-in-law that they found the bodies, my brother included. They were found early this morning about 3 a.m.”

The bodies were discovered alongside a canal, local media reported. All had been shot in the head, and dozens of spent bullet casings were found at the site, suggesting they had been slain on the spot, local media said.
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Rose Parade faithful face 'turf war' and the night chill

Parade faithful
The cold air couldn’t dampen spirits in Old Town Pasadena on New Year’s Eve.

Cotton candy sellers traversed Colorado Boulevard carrying their pastel-colored wares and men in dark jackets leaned against the boarded-up storefronts hawking Rose Parade T-shirts and toy horns. All along the parade route, early attendees camped along the sidewalk, marking their territory with mattresses and blankets, fold-up chairs and baby cribs.

“It’s a turf war,” said Samuel Jimenez, 20. “These guys here,” he pointed to the group to the left of him, “got pushed over. That wouldn’t have happened over here.”

Jimenez had been hanging around the corner since 7 a.m., avoiding warnings from police. He’d marked the spot for the last three years, and about 10 other family members would be sure to come, he said.

“When it turns 12, everyone goes crazy, dancing, saying 'hi' to everyone,” Jimenez said.

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Rose Parade float makers paste on their final flowers

Monkey
With only hours remaining before the Rose Parade begins, volunteers gathered in Pasadena this afternoon to paste the final flower petals on the floats. 

Heather Shanahan, a student at Cal Poly Pomona, spent the day in the warm sun near the Rose Bowl as volunteers finished off a float depicting a tropical scene of palm trees populated by a toucan, monkey, giraffe and zebra.

The students put some of their engineering theories they learned in the classroom into practice, with some putting in 20-hour days to get the float done. The black toucan is set up to look like it's flying, and the brown monkey, whose mustache is made of oats, will wave scissors made of black beans to the crowd. 

"Our float’s pretty edible," said Shanahan, a construction and engineering major.

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Annual ritual unfolds along the Rose Parade route

Rose parade scene
The annual run-up to the Rose Parade unfolded today like a finely tuned ritual along Colorado Boulevard and inside cavernous float-decorating venues.

Tourists arranged sleepovers along the five-mile Rose Parade route; and cheery, glue-stained volunteers feverishly applied finishing touches to the parade’s 41 floats. 

Kathy Shanahan, 55, of Yorba Linda spent the day like scores of others: decorating floats. Her assignment included pasting pink gerbera daisies on the edge of the Cal Poly float, which features a tropical scene.

Meanwhile, parade watchers staked out spots with masking tape, folding chairs and blankets, turning the sidewalk into a makeshift living room.

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Judge orders the governor to halt employee furloughs

A Superior Court judge today ordered Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to halt thrice-monthly furloughs for tens of thousands of state workers, saying the administration overstepped its authority in approving the unpaid days off.

A spokesman for Schwarzenegger said the governor would appeal the decision of Alameda County Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch in favor of three state employee unions, including the Service Employees International Union Local 1000. The unions had filed suit after the governor began the furloughs in February in response to a multibillion-dollar budget shortfall.

The judge ruled that the governor’s use of the state Emergency Services Act to furlough state workers because the state did not have a budget at the time had limits.

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H1N1 flu illnesses dropping to seasonal norms in state

Cases of H1N1 flu illness reported to California health officials have fallen to normal seasonal expectations, officials said today.

"Most indicators suggest that illness may be declining, with levels of illness approaching the normal range for this time of year," the California Department of Public Health said in its weekly H1N1 staff report.

Officials said 72 new H1N1 cases that resulted in hospitalizations or deaths were reported to California health authorities for the week that ended Dec. 26. That figure was significantly down from the 209 new cases reported the previous week.

The number of flu-related fatalities reported to the state last week dropped to 12, down from 32 the previous week.

The trend in California is consistent with what is being seen nationally with H1N1, or swine flu.

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Rare blue moon will be shining tonight

Blue-moon600
 
New Year’s Eve celebrations will be a bit brighter tonight with a blue moon shining in the sky.

A blue moon -- the second full moon in a month – isn’t that uncommon, occurring on average every 2 1/2 years.

But a blue moon on Dec. 31 last happened 19 years ago, said Scott Kardel, a spokesman for Palomar Observatory in San Diego County. 

“On New Year’s Eve, it is very rare,” Kardel said. The last one was in 1990.

The name is a bit misleading -- the moon will not appear blue. Rather, the name refers to the expression “once in a blue moon.”

Though many stargazers may be watching the skies tonight, most astronomers don’t like full moons because they make the sky too bright, Kardel said.

“But a full moon is convenient if you’re out celebrating tonight,” he said. “You’ll have a little more light to see as you get around.”

--Anna Gorman

Photo: A blue moon rises over Los Angeles City Hall on New Year's Eve.

Credit: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

Diverted gas line threatened gang task force office

Gas line Hemet police now say it was a diverted gas line, and not an explosive device, that was discovered in its local gang task force office this morning.

The gas line was rerouted through the office, and had it been ignited from static or a lit cigarette, it could have leveled the building and killed anyone in it, said Lt Duane Wisehart. Police described the line earlier as an "explosive device."

Members of the Hemet-San Jacinto Valley Gang Task Force discovered the diverted gas line about 8:30 a.m. “and immediately realizing something wasn’t right ... they backed out of the office and made a call,” Wisehart said.

“It was planned to blow up the building and anyone in it,” he said. “We’re not really sure why it didn’t.”

Continue reading »

Rose Parade visitors are urged to take the Gold Line

Pasadena police are urging Rose Parade visitors to take the Metro Gold Line and walk to the Colorado Boulevard route, or if traveling by car to arrive two to three hours before the parade begins at 8 a.m.

"If they drive, they should plan to arrive early -- 5 or 6 a.m.," said Janet Pope Givens, a spokeswoman for the Pasadena Police Department. "Chances are they will have to park a distance away and walk."

For those who already are camping along the route, Givens said that at 11 tonight they will be allowed to move from the curb to the prime viewing section in the street, where a blue line has been painted to mark crowd boundaries.

Until this year, spectators had to stay off the street until midnight -- but too many campers ended up battling for space with people who would leave Pasadena's bars around midnight and head straight for the parade route. The new 11 p.m. time, Givens said, "makes for less congestion."

But two parade route rules remain steadfastly in place: no air horns or using food as projectiles. So unless you are eating burritos for dinner, keep the tortillas at home.

--Cara Mia DiMassa in Pasadena

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