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Rose Parade: Getting a great viewing spot requires an early start

January 1, 2011 |  7:09 am

As dawn broke on a new year in Pasadena, folks gathering to watch the 122nd annual Rose Parade jockeyed and angled for prime real estate along Colorado Boulevard.

Many had been camping out on the sidewalk since Friday morning with only blankets, small wood fires and body heat from family and friends to protect them from the unusually cold conditions.

"We're high-class hobos right now," Kathleen Bendick, 20, said with a giggle. The Los Angeles resident and four friends were seated around a makeshift table on Marengo Avenue and Colorado, passing the time by playing the card game Apples to Apples. "This is the first time for all of us to spend the night here."

Bendick burrowed into a sleeping bag and pointed at card partner Chris Gorman: "We're all here because his brother is a herald trumpeter in the parade and it's a big deal."

Gorman, 26, nodded apologetically and said that despite the cold, the large crowd and party atmosphere was an interesting way to spend New Year's.

A few blocks away on Fair Oaks Avenue, Samir Esmili of Duarte warmed his hands over a small flame from a barbecue grill at his feet and reminisced about taking his wife on their very first date 10 years ago, on New Year's Eve at that exact intersection.

"We'd met in early December, so I figured, why not spend the night waiting for the parade?" Esmili said. "Then I could spend more time with her."

"Back then," his wife Amal interjected wryly, "he thought it was very romantic."

But they stopped going after life and work got too busy, Esmili said. Now that their sons Omar, 9, and Kareem, 4, are a little older and hardier, Esmili said, they were determined to restart the tradition for their kids. "Such good memories for them later on," he said.


The first step in parade safety

What shaky economy? Tourists here for the Rose Bowl game are splurging

Photos: Early years of the Rose Parade

-- Shan Li in Old Pasadena