When New Yorkers jam Times Square to ring in the new year, all they get is a gaudy ball drop and the chance to sing "Auld Lang Syne" with strangers who smell like peppermint schnapps. But here in Southern California, the ultimate all-nighter has a noble purpose. If one is sporting enough to tough it out on Pasadena's Colorado Boulevard until 8 a.m. on New Year's Day, the trophy is an unparalleled front-row view of the Rose Parade in all its floral glory.
Sure, you can purchase grandstand tickets, but that would be a bit like hunting at a deer park. Landing a primo spot for free isn't for the faint of heart. It requires skill, discipline and planning. For a permanent position along the parade route, you'll need to start your stakeout on the sidewalk at noon on Dec. 31. By 11 p.m., you can move your troops into position along the blue "honor line" painted on the street. Be prepared to hunker down and defend your real estate against turf poachers. By nightfall, the sidewalk can start to look like the parking lot at a Grateful Dead show (but with less patchouli oil). Still, whether you're a New Year's newbie or a hard-core veteran, there are a few key pieces of equipment that can help you survive the long, cold night.
What to Leave Behind
Although a nip from a hip flask might seem holiday-appropriate, leave the liquor at home unless you want to watch the parade in police custody (and ditto for the drugs). A few other prohibited items include: air horns, candles, futons, fireworks, ladders, rope, scaffolding, tents.
And keep that entrepreneurial spirit under wraps, because public space cannot be "sold." A full list of do's and don'ts and additional information can be found online at www.ci.pasadena.ca.us/police; click on "2005 new years public information." If in doubt about a particular item, contact the Pasadena Police Department's parade office at (626) 744-4598.
Igloo Maxcold cooler, $12.99, at Target stores. Casio 4-inch TFT desktop color TV, $209.99, at BestBuy stores, www.bestbuy.com. Portable mesh armchair, $20, at REI, www.rei.com. Coleman Road Trip Party Grill with propane, $39.99, at Target. Thermos Add-a-Cup for hot or cold beverages, $9.99, at Target; mugs, $7.95, at Crate & Barrel stores, www.crateandbarrel.com. Eddie Bauer sleeping bag with Comfort Shell top and removable pillow, $39.99, and Greatland Outdoors camping mat, $9.99, at Target. Red Duck Down Foot Duvets, $20, at Restoration Hardware stores, www.restorationhardware.com. "America's New Year Celebration: The Rose Parade & Rose Bowl Game," edited by Darcy Ellington, $19.90, "Death on Parade," by Gregory and Patricia Kishel, $14.95, at www.amazon.com. Cotton racer knit hat, $12.50, at GapKids, (626) 304-9576; lambswool, angora and nylon ribbon gloves, $48, at Anthropologie stores.