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Rose Parade 2012: Thousands thrill to floats, marching bands

January 2, 2012 | 10:06 am

Rose Parade float glides down street. Click for more photos.
Thousands gathered under clear, blue skies Monday for Pasadena’s yearly spectacle of fantastical floral floats, high-stepping marching bands and colorful equestrian units.

Themed "Just Imagine," the 123rd Tournament of Roses Parade was expected to attract more than 150,000 visitors this year. The parade is being held on Jan. 2 instead of the traditional Jan. 1 because the parade is not held on Sundays.

The event this year was punctuated by a demonstration: The group Occupy the Rose Parade carried signs drawing attention to their cause of income inequality, and dozens of protesters planned to march at the end of the parade with an Occupy Octopus "live" float constructed of plastic bags.

PHOTOS: 2012 Rose Parade

That prospect appeared not to dent the enthusiasm of thousands of parade-goers, many of whom spent the night camped out on air mattresses and in sleeping bags to claim coveted positions along the 5 1/2-mile parade route.

Virginia Miller, 55, and Veronica Baca, 56, visited the parade route to admire and take pictures of the floats still illuminated by flood lights.

The cousins have not seen each in 30 years and thought the parade would be a great opportunity to reconnect.

"What better way to unite?" said Baca, who traveled from Lubbock, Texas.

For Baca, the trip to Pasadena to attend the parade was a first.

“I've watched this on TV since I was little,” she said in awe of the towering floats.  “You can feel the joy and dedication in the floats. You feel the love and beauty you can't see on TV."

Nearby, several spectators viewed a float sponsored by Natural Balance Pet Foods Inc. that was 119-feet, 7-inches long, with an 85-foot-long water tank that held 6,600 gallons of water.

Weighing 138,000 pounds, it broke a world record for heaviest float, operators said. During the parade, the float featured six dogs, including four English bulldogs, trained to surf.

Float operator Larry Firth said that despite its length, turns on the parade route would be no problem.

“We had harder turns getting here,” Firth said.

Tournament of Roses officials announced the winning floats before the parade completed, awarding the Sweepstakes Trophy to Dole’s “Preserving Paradise” float.

It was the second consecutive year a Dole flat won the tournament’s highest honor. This year’s entry featured a temple styled after Thailand’s Royal Palace, along with an elephant, a tiger and, of course, lots of fruit.

Meanwhile, three teams of activists planned to march with the Occupy procession to self-police and avoid violence or disturbances. Police warned that anyone disrupting or impeding the parade would face fines and jail time.

"If we can get small situations handled within our own group, we'll avoid the need for police to come in," said activist Roger Bruce of San Clemente, who will be in the peacekeeping group. "We think we can handle it with sweetness."

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Rose Parade 2012: About 200 Occupy protesters gather in Pasadena

-- Rosanna Xia and Dalina Castellanos in Pasadena

Photo: Orange Grove Avenue in Pasadena is stacked with floats, equestrian units and marching bands for the 123rd Rose Parade. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times

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