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Rose Parade begins under clear skies

Thousands of huddled parade-goers in Pasadena are undeterred by the cold.

January 02, 2011

With an Air Force B2 stealth bomber soaring through the cold, clear skies over Pasadena, the 122nd Rose Parade began at 8:03 a.m.

This year's grand marshal, television chef and author Paula Deen, is leading the parade in the back of a 1923 Rolls-Royce, followed by a float in the form of a towering fairy-tale castle, meant to introduce this year's theme, "Building Dreams, Friendships and Memories."

Thousands of people had set up camp on the parade route, bundled for temperatures that dipped overnight to near freezing, giving the sidewalks the look of a refugee camp. They huddled together under a mishmash of blankets and sleeping bags, warming their hands over small fires and space heaters.

"We're high-class hobos right now," Kathleen Bendick, 20, said with a giggle. The Los Angeles resident and four friends hunkered over a makeshift table, passing the time by playing the card game Apples to Apples.

The chill was hard for even parade veterans. Todd Denerson, 34, of Glendora, had learned all the tricks in his 12 years of camping out: advanced scouting for a plum locale (next to the Tournament house, where the floats begin), amenities like a flat-screen TV and DVD player -- and plenty of blankets.

"It's the coldest night I've ever had in all the year's I've done this," he said.

It was so cold that that Rocky, the family's Yorkshire terrier, spent the night tucked into Denerson's firefighter jacket. Only his head peeked out from under Denerson's chin.

Parade organizers and float builders feared that one of the stormiest starts of winter on record would make Saturday's event the 11th rainy one in the parade's history, but potential rain passed far to the north. A sharp crescent moon rose before the sun to herald a sunny day.

Sponsored by American Honda, this year's parade features 47 floats, 22 bands and 22 equestrian entries rolling down Colorado Boulevard. Wrought in colorful flowers and seeds, the floats will include a skim-boarding bulldog, a tribute to American Indian culture, a combination house-boat-car-helicopter and a scene from the "Three Little Pigs."

Pasadena Tournament of Roses President Jeffrey Throop said his choice of the year's theme reflects what the parade means to people around the world.

"For some, it is a dream to make it to Pasadena on New Year's Day. Whether it's as a player in the Rose Bowl game, as a trumpeter in the Rose Parade or a fan watching from the curbside. . . . The 2011 Tournament of Roses will celebrate the builders who put our parade and game together and the dreams, friendships and memories that ensue from it."

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