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A Rose Parade Survivor's Guide

Don't stress out on Pasadena's big day (and, yes, there's an app for that).

December 31, 2011|By Joe Piasecki,
  • The City of Glendale's 1968 Rose Parade float won a first prize. The theme of the parade was 'Wonderful World of Adventure.' (Photo courtesy Glendale Public Library)
The City of Glendale's 1968 Rose Parade float won…

So you’re going to the Rose Parade.

Many choices lie ahead.

Buy a seat near the heart of the television spectacle at Orange Grove and Colorado boulevards, or rough it on free sidewalk space further down the parade route? Take a chance with street parking, or reserve a spot in advance?

Brave the freeways? Better know which ramps are closed.

The Rose Parade is expected to draw approximately 800,000 people to the streets of Pasadena on Jan. 2, some camping overnight to reserve a sidewalk spot. Tens of thousands more flock to the Rose Bowl Game. Crowds, traffic — it’s all part of the pageantry, and not much to worry about once you know the ropes.

WHO YOU GONNA CALL: For the past 28 years, the Pasadena Convention & Visitors Bureau’s special Visitor Hotline — (877) 793-9911 — has been the go-to resource for instant answers to almost any parade-related question. More than five dozen volunteers man phone lines from Dec. 30 to Jan. 3, advising on everything from disability accommodations to where to find fresh pan dulce and hot chocolate the morning of the parade (it’s Doña Rosa, at 577 S. Arroyo Pkwy.). The line is open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on New Year’s Day, and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on parade day and Jan. 3. Prefer to plan ahead? Download the volunteers’ 82-page reference guide at


‘GO PASADENA!’ APP: Those who’d rather stream than dial can download the bureau’s free “Go Pasadena!” smart phone application and its special Rose Parade widgets from the iTunes Store or Android Marketplace. The app features GPS maps that can pinpoint a user’s location and guide the way. There’s also a free Pasadena Chamber of Commerce iPhone app for finding out where to grab lunch.

GETTING THERE: Access to and from the 210 and 134 freeways is closed until noon on parade day at Orange Grove Boulevard, California Avenue and Del Mar Boulevard, and at Sierra Madre Boulevard until 6 p.m. Metro Gold Line light rail trains will run every eight minutes to and from Pasadena stations from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. on parade day. Trains also run all night before the parade for those hearty souls who wish to camp out overnight to reserve sidewalk space.

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