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THE ROSE PARADE

Most coveted real estate today is a few feet of Pasadena sidewalk

January 01, 2007|Nancy Wride | Times Staff Writer

By this afternoon, plumber Chad Pawlowski will be on his 48th hour of family tradition, having landed a choice Pasadena curb Saturday for three generations to camp out for the Rose Parade, then head to the Rose Bowl.

The Pawlowski clan is not only watching the parade and volunteering to help bring it off, this year one of them, 16-year-old nephew Brian Anderson of Whittier, will be marching and playing trumpet in the parade. "We're embedded in this parade," Pawlowski said.

Outside the Bentley dealership on Colorado Boulevard, the family was among many that had set up a sidewalk campsite, with barbecues, hot dogs, cocoa and Sunday breakfast fare spread out on tables.

There, near the corner of St. John Avenue, the Pawlowskis, the Andersons and numerous clans played out their yearly custom of spending the night on concrete to score the perfect parade viewing spot.

"It's tradition. We've been coming since our parents dropped us off at 6 a.m. the morning of the parade in the Ford Country Squire, and we [kids] held the spot," said Susan Anderson, 40, a special education teacher from Kingman, Ariz.

She grew up in Alhambra with two sisters and brother Chad, who had scored the parade perch and marked it in chalk Saturday about 3 p.m., then had to bird dog it with hours of pacing, until he finally repaired at 3 a.m. to his car a block away. Three hours later he returned to baby-sit the family's 150 square feet of street camp, and his mother, children, spouse and other kin streamed in by 4 p.m. Sunday.

Just down the sidewalk, Mike Portaro of Lompoc banged out his own seventh annual tradition on a full set of drums, having found a patch of private property on which to serenade smiling parade campers with "This Is for All the Lonely People," by America.

"I want to wish you all a very happy New Year," said "Mike the Lone Drummer," as he announced himself to passersby, some of whom gunned their Harleys and drowned him out, while others honked and cheered.

About a mile away, two families moved through their own parade traditions after parking on a residential street off Orange Grove Avenue. They tucked volunteers' parking permits onto their dashboards and, like they have for several years running, they piled into one car about 1:30 p.m. to head to a Duarte barn to ride back in their assigned float vehicles as they are towed to Pasadena.

Cary Westcott, a 51-year-old train conductor for Union Pacific Railroad, will be the lookout on the Kaiser Permanente float this morning. He said he has enjoyed 13 years of being a part of something "that everybody involved has fun with."

His 18-year-old son, Cody, will drive the city of Palmdale float. From the time he was 12, he rode the floats with his dad. "How many 12-year-olds are stowed away on the floats?" Cody Westcott said.

Union Pacific locomotive engineer John Strube, 53, will be controlling the Kaiser float, relying on the senior Westcott's directions of "Left! Left! Stop! Stop!"

They've been volunteering for years for a firm that builds floats for cities and businesses.

Throughout Pasadena, a festive mood prevailed Sunday as motorists and pedestrians took the snarled traffic in stride. Pasadena Police Lt. Jari Faulker said there had been no arrests or significant problems Sunday.

Outside the Rose Bowl, Debbie Platte, 51, of Rialto was practicing her own tradition of 13 years, among the people streaming by the Honda dragon float and others in the yearly pre-parade viewing area. After the floats, Platte, her husband and friends dine out. Today, they'll watch the parade on television.

The tradition started as a way to distract Platte from a breast cancer diagnosis, she said. "Now it's just what we do each year."

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nancy.wride@latimes.com

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