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Real Contest May Be Just Getting to Pasadena

Events: With the Rose Bowl game starting in the thick of rush hour, things could get nasty on the freeways.


What do you get when you cross 90,000 football fans, many from Nebraska and Miami, with impatient commuters and some of L.A.'s most congested roadways?

A possible traffic migraine. Or at least that's what Pasadena police fear about today's Rose Bowl football game.

Pasadena is sending many of its nonessential city employees home at noon today. One of the city's biggest corporations is closing down early. But for many others in and around the area, this evening's commute could prove to be its own test of endurance. The 5 p.m. Rose Bowl game kickoff, scheduled for a national television broadcast, will fall in the midst of the local rush hour.

"This is very serious," said Cmdr. Mary L. Schander of the Pasadena Police Department. "The game is not on the 1st [of January, a holiday], it's a work day, and we have two teams whose fans are not familiar with Southern California."

Leann Lampe, spokeswoman for the usually boosterish Pasadena Convention and Visitors Bureau, noted: "It's going to be busy, no doubt about it."

During a typical weekday commute, 10,300 cars an hour travel the Foothill Freeway near the Rose Bowl, 17,100 use the 134 Freeway and another 7,900 the winding Pasadena Freeway.

More than 90,000 people are expected to attend today's football game. Many are from out of town, and "it's somewhat unpredictable to say where they are staying and where they are coming from, if it's Santa Monica or Santa Clarita," Schander said.

Parking for fans at the Rose Bowl is limited, she added, and security at the game will be tight, adding to time it will take people to get to their stadium seats.

Event organizers are encouraging people going to the game to arrive earlier in the day, before rush hour begins.

Parking lots around the Rose Bowl open at 8 a.m. today, and a free shuttle from the Parsons parking lot at 100 W. Walnut St. will begin ferrying passengers to the game at 1 p.m.

In addition, organizers hope that a $30-a-person, pregame "Rose Bowl Experience" will entice game-goers to arrive at the stadium well before kickoff. The "interactive football theme park," as it is being billed, runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and will feature musical performances by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and K.C. and the Sunshine Band.


Rose Bowl parking and directions. S9

"This is not going to catch anyone by surprise," said Darryl Dunn, general manager of the Rose Bowl. "But it's still a workday."

Margie Tiritilli, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Transportation, said that all routes around the Rose Bowl will be open to traffic, with no planned lane, ramp or freeway closures.

Officer Ricardo Quintero of the California Highway Patrol said CHP officers will be assisting Pasadena police in escorting team members and VIPs into and out of the Rose Bowl. But "as far as the freeways," he said, "we don't have anything planned. If a problem comes up, they will handle it."

The Rose Parade and the Rose Bowl game traditionally are both on Jan. 1. But college football officials moved the game to Jan. 3 this year as part of a new bowl championship series intended to determine a national champion.

Many people used the day in between to view the floats, on display on Sierra Madre Boulevard in northeast Pasadena.

Rob Burskey said he could relate to the Rockin' Rollers float, consisting of four animated caveman figures playing musical instruments. "I'm a caveman at heart," he said.

The Rockin' Rollers' wildly colored hair was made of straw flowers, silk grass and moss. They jammed to tunes such as Queen's "We Will Rock You."

Burskey, his brother Rob and their mother Joyce were among the thousands who came to gawk at the 53 floats. The brothers, who live in Van Nuys, were making their first trip to the float showcase and brought their mother, who is vacationing in the Southland from Washington state.

"Isn't it a shame that we've never come before?" Rob Burskey said. "I'd just thought it would be neat to see them up close for a change."

Another set of brothers shared some quality time with their mother. Nicholas McCoy, 1, and Nathan McCoy, 3, were taking it all in from a stroller.

"They love it," said their mother, Lena McCoy of San Dimas, who said she comes every year to see the float display and is never disappointed. "It's all so beautiful," she said. "Every year it seems like they become more and more elaborate."

Sprinkled among the crowd were a good number of Nebraska natives, decked out in red sweatshirts to support their beloved Cornhuskers, who take on top-ranked Miami today in the Rose Bowl.

Charlotte Miller of Lincoln, Neb., who said she follows the team everywhere, said she was glad she made it to the showcase, where she was looking at a float built to function as a carousel.

"Everything is so amazing and the people have been so friendly and considerate," she said.

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