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Rose Parade thrills crowds with war vet, city floats

The annual Pasadena event drew an estimated 900,000 to Colorado Boulevard.

January 02, 2012|By Bill Kisliuk and Adolfo Flores bill.kisliuk@latimes.com, adolfo.flores@latimes.com
  • The City of Burbank float, titled "The Dream Machine," rolls down Colorado Bloulevard during the 123rd Rose Parade in Pasadena on Monday, January 2, 2011. The float won the Mayor's Trophy for most outstanding city entry, national or international. (Raul Roa/Staff Photographer)
The City of Burbank float, titled "The Dream Machine,"…

Thousands lined Pasadena’s Colorado Boulevard Monday for the 123rd Rose Parade that included an Occupy protest, an Iraq war veteran grand marshal and local students who rode atop Glendale’s float.

Themed “Just Imagine,” the event attracted an estimated 900,000 visitors and featured 44 floats, 21 marching bands and 20 equestrian troupes marching down the 5½ mile route through the heart of the city. The parade was held the day after New Year’s to avoid disrupting Sunday church services.

A group called Occupy the Rose Parade stirred up the usually nonpolitical event with a demonstration that included an octopus float constructed from plastic bags, which was kept calm with the help of a “peacekeeping” team the activists formed. The group aimed to draw attention to income equality and corporate greed. The demonstration did not dent the enthusiasm of parade-goers, many of whom spent the night camped out on air mattresses and in sleeping bags to claim coveted positions.

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Pasadena police reported making 10 arrests on the Rose Parade route in a 24-hour period before the parade, from 5 a.m. New Year's Day to 5 a.m. today. Of the 10 arrests, four were misdemeanors for people being drunk in public. There were two other misdemeanor arrests and four felony arrests, according to Pasadena Police Lt. Phlunte Riddle. The number was down from last year, said Riddle.

Glendale was one local city that sponsored a float. Its driver of the past five years, Cindy Nakamaru, had a rare view of the parade. Usually, Nakamaru is tucked into a compartment at the bottom of the float where she can't see out, but in this year's float, “Just Imagine the Music, Fun and Freedom,” she was 15 feet above the ground on the shoulder of the circus elephant.

“I'm outside, this is very unusual,” said Nakamaru, who was joined by an all-female crew on the float.

Neighboring cities won awards for their designs. La Cañada Flintridge won the Bob Hope Humor Trophy for “If Pigs Could Fly,” Burbank won the Mayor’s Trophy for “The Dream Machine” and South Pasadena won the Fantasy Trophy for “When Life Gives You Lemons...”

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