Tournament of Roses 2015 Parade

January 1st, 2015
     After years of watching the New Year’s Day Pasadena Tournament of Roses parade on television I finally found myself sitting in a grandstand seat along the parade route on New Year’s day 2015. This year the Rose Parade, long considered “America’s New Year Celebration“, celebrated its 126th year and it was an experience my friend Andrea and I enjoyed so much we are considering a repeat in 2016.

     The day started very early. Andrea boarded our Linn Line motor coach at 4:30 a.m. in Palm Desert and I joined her when the coach stopped at the A.C.T. Tours office in Palm Springs at 5:00 a.m. We made excellent time and arrived at our destination before 7:00 a.m. for a hot pancake breakfast at the First United Methodist Church. Afterwards we walked the half-block to our second-row stadium seating mid-way in the five mile parade route along Colorado Boulevard. The first contingents of the parade reached us around 8:30 a.m. and the passing spectacle continued until well after 10:30 a.m.

     Sitting on the parade route was like being present during an outdoor party. The panoply of spectators (both curbside and in the stands), personal acts (bicyclists, acrobatics, religious salvation hawkers, on the route preceding the first parade units was topped completely by a squad of motorcycle police officers. There were eight of them riding flower adorned bikes with lights flashing, sirens sounding and banners flying. They zoomed up and down the parade route in various formations which they performed with great skill. Their performance definitely merited the applause they received from the crowd when whey they departed in advance of the first parade units.

     The first parade unit to reach us was that of the 2015 Grand Marshall, Mr. Louis Zamperini, who passed away at age 97 a few months after having been selected for the position. He was represented by a riderless horse followed by his daughter and family riding in a decorated 1936 Packard Standard Eight luxury convertible.

     This year’s parade theme “Inspiring Stories” is about “ordinary people who do extraordinary things as a result of their effort”. The theme was chosen in 2010 after publication of “Unbroken, Laura Hillenbrand’s book about Olympic athelete and World War II hero Louis Zamperini, was published”.

     The actual parade consisted of 39 decorated floats, 6 Tournament Entries, 18 Equestrian Units, 21 Marching Bands, and a Closing Show presented by Wells Fargo. All floats were decorated with flowers and other plant materials. No paint or other artificial coverings are permitted. A flyover of the B-2 Spirit multi-role stealth bomber flew over the route as the parade got underway.

     There were so many outstanding parade units, including beautifully designed floats, that several pages would be required in order to fairly produce a complete presentation. That part of the morning was surely captured by the television crews where it became visible to worldwide audiences. To those along the parade route many causes of merriment were actions probably not seen by television viewers. One of the funniest examples were the three individuals, dressed in white, who followed each equestrian unit. One pushed a trash bin on wheels, another had a shovel and the third had a dust pan. Their job was to clear horse manure from the route. Their antics were quite comical and often ended with a bow to the crowd following completion of their collection task. Applause always followed their antics.

     The near-freezing weather temperature this year produced one of the coldest Rose Parade events and those along the route were bundled in warm clothing. That was seldom the case for parade participants and many were dressed in a manner better suited for a warm day (as was the case the preceding year). However, there was no visible evidence the cold temperatures adversely affected the participants or the beautiful flowers and plant materials covering the floats and other units. As for me, in the grandstand wearing several layers of clothing, I still managed to feel the cold metal seat I was sitting on while my fingers and toes never qualified for a warm rating. Next time I’ll bring a seat cushion!

Rose Parade 2015 Grandstand ViewBond & Andrea – View from Grandstand
     After parade’s end our motor coach proceeded to a food court near Santa Anita Park in nearby Arcadia. An hour’s stop permitted us to purchase lunch and take advantage of comfort facilities. We then reboarded our coach and made an uneventful return to Palm Springs around 2:00 p.m. Justine, our director, was an experienced guide who clearly had been to many past parades. Her coach time talks provided us with meaningful background information about the City of Pasadena and its Rose Parade.

      A.C.T. Escorted Day Tours advertised the $149 Rose Parade offering as follows:

“A.C.T. has procured excellent grandstand seats midway in the parade route, enabling you to leave the desert an hour later than normal. Each seat is numbered and reserved ­hassle free! Tour includes deluxe motor coach transportation, and a hot pancake breakfast when you arrive in Pasadena.”

      The event lived up to the published description and is one Andrea and I would both recommend. We also agreed in our favorable rating of Justine who served as our tour guide escort.


Bond Shands
January 1, 2015
The Notebook at

Note: Quotations are from the official Rose Parade program.


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