Zsa Zsa Gabor showed up on a horse, AIDS activists staged a sit-in and the biggest prize went to a float celebrating real estate Monday as Pasadena's Tournament of Roses entered its second century.
The parade's theme, "A World of Harmony," proved unexpectedly timely in view of ongoing developments in Eastern Europe, though it was generally reflected in such nonpolitical displays as a South Pasadena float that grouped a dog, a cat and some mice on a skateboard.
The two-hour parade was staged under the sunny skies that seem required by city ordinance for the event, and Pasadena police stuck to their traditional if apocryphal estimate of 1 million spectators.
While there had been a falloff of advance ticket sales because of earthquake fears, a letdown after last year's 100th parade, and another USC-Michigan Rose Bowl football match, the stands along the 5.5-mile route seemed full.
The biggest cheers seemed to go to Carnation's "Rock Around the Croc" float, which depicted a guitar-playing crocodile assisted by a tortoise with a Mohawk hairdo. Casablanca Fan Co.'s "Forget the Harmony--Rescue the Cat," which featured a pair of clowns riding a motorcycle up a high wire in an attempt to rescue a young woman dressed as a cat atop a light pole, also was a crowd favorite.
"This is ten times better, no, a hundred times better, than on TV," said Diane Morgan of San Diego. "You don't get the three-dimensional effect, and you can't smell the flowers unless you're here."
Ferris Reid, who drove his motor home to Pasadena from Aurora, Ill., was one of many spectators who camped out along the parade route, and he said there was nothing crazy about it.
"Being crazy was staying back in Illinois in the winter," he pointed out.
As always, the crowd was part of the spectacle, offering such characters as the long-haired nature boy Gypsy Boots, 79, a familiar cheerleader at Southern California events; a man waving a sign that said "Magnets Stop Pain"; and a handful of homeless people who said they drove in from the mountain town of Wrightwood, about 40 miles away.
"People-watching is the funnest part," noted Eric Gauweiler, an Orange County pastry chef who wore a skull-shaped earring.
The parade, which has grown from a procession of rose-covered horses around an empty lot in 1890 to a spectacle of 29 equestrian units, 22 bands (including groups from Indonesia, Switzerland and Japan) and 60 floats this year, drew a worldwide audience of an estimated 300 million television viewers.
Some TV stations, however, chose to offer no camera shots to explain the stoppage of the parade 10 minutes after its start. Fourteen AIDS activists staged a sit-in on the route after unfurling a banner that said, "Emergency. Stop the parade. 70,000 Dead of AIDS."
The protesters were chained together, and some screamed in pain when Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies quickly dragged them across the asphalt. Later, the demonstrators were booked on suspicion of unlawful assembly and resisting arrest.
Aside from that incident, Pasadena police reported 221 arrests along the route--most of them involving alcohol--compared to 320 last year. More than 100 illegally parked cars were towed away.
The surprise participant of the parade seemed to be Gabor, who rode on a white horse named Silver Fox as a member of the Belles and Beaus of the 1890s equestrian group. The actress, whose cop-slapping trial in Beverly Hills brought her nationwide publicity as well as a three-day jail sentence last year, was not included on the program's list of riders, an omission parade officials attributed to an "oversight." Her name was, however, scrawled across her saddle blanket, and it was clear from the spectators' responses--many of them jeers--that her presence was not unnoticed.
"Slap the horse!" one spectator cried.
She was also applauded by some, and later commented with a shrug: "I'm an actress--you get boos and you get cheers."
There also were reports of scattered boos for embattled Sen. John Glenn, the parade grand marshal. Several months after his selection, he became one of five senators under investigation for possibly interfering with the federal probe of now-bankrupt Lincoln Savings & Loan.
Glenn was the second straight marshal to pop a surprise on parade officials; his predecessor, Shirley Temple, turned out to be allergic to roses.
The parade queen was Yasmine Delawari, a 17-year-old senior at La Canada High, who noted the pertinence of this year's theme: "There have been so many changes in the world--East Germany, the Soviet Union and elsewhere. It's turned out to be 'a world of harmony.' "
Her princesses were: Kristin Gibbs, Inger Miller, Marisa Stephenson, Joanne Ward, Kandace Watson and Peggy Ann Zazueta.
Technical mishaps were few.