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Soldier reunited with family in Rose Parade's most surprising moment

January 1, 2013 |  1:30 pm

The 124th Rose Parade provided a surprisingly emotional moment –- and a joyous family reunion.

Miriam Pazz was snapping photos of a float honoring military dogs for her husband, Army Sgt. 1st Class Eric Pazz, who she thought was in Afghanistan, when the float came to an abrupt halt and he stepped off the platform in combat boots and camouflage.

Spectators gave a boisterous standing ovation as 4-year-old Eric Pazz II dashed from the sidewalk and into his father’s arms in the middle of Colorado Boulevard. A minute later, the family locked in a warm embrace seen by hundreds of millions of viewers around the world.

PHOTOS: 2013 Rose Parade

In an interview, Pazz said he was all but unaware of the applause and commotion in the nearby grandstands.

“All I wanted to do was hold my wife and son and tell them I love them,” Pazz said shortly after the parade ended Tuesday morning. “I was lost in the moment. There was nothing going on in the world except on the ground my family was standing on.”

Moments later, the entire family boarded the float titled “Canines with Courage and sponsored by Natural Balance Pet Foods, and tooling along the parade route as premier guests.

FULL COVERAGE: 2013 Rose Parade

Just a block down the parade route, Eric II looked at his father and wondered aloud: “Does this mean you are home, Dad?”

Pazz said, “Well, son, we’ll talk about that later.”

The reunion “has been in the works for [about six months] and took an enormous amount of preparation and coordination with the military and parade officials,” Daniel Bernstein, a spokesman for Natural Balance Pet Foods.

Pazz is scheduled to return to Afghanistan later this week.


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-- Louis Sahagun