It didn't take long to find the very busy Sharp Seating Co. ticket office. The place was packed, but since we'd ordered tickets ahead of time online, we didn't have to wait long. From there we drove up Colorado Avenue to check out the parade seating and to find some lunch. Here's Katie's artistic representation of our fancy California meal, courtesy of her new camera's panoramic function:
With tickets in hand, we were set for our afternoon in Pasadena. First stop: float decorating. Our tickets allowed us to visit four different decorating stations. We opted for the two places right across the parking lot from the Rose Bowl. After parking, we crossed the street just in time to see a HUGE group lining up. Sure enough, we'd run right into the All-Birdville Band! We waved hello to Ryan (he actually spotted us before I found him), and then we found the entrance to the first pavilion.
It was truly amazing to see what goes into creating all these floats.
Each float has to be completely covered in organic material. Earlier in the month, many floats were decorated with dry goods (like bark and seeds). After Christmas, volunteers got to work adding flowers and other fresh plants.
The place smelled incredible!
Among the floats we saw in the Brookside Pavilion was Cal Poly Universities' "Galactic Explorer" (above) and the 9/11 tribute from the LA County Fireman's Benefit and Welfare Association:
We didn't realize it at the time, but these volunteers were working on the 93 emblems for the 9/11 float. The numbers, which were put on the float's big flags, were in honor of the heroes aboard United flight 93.
After walking through the Brookside tent, we took a potty break. Katie was kind enough to document this pit stop.
I didn't realize that we were within walking distance of another decorating stop, but I'm glad we wandered into it! The Rosemont Pavilion was much busier and far more interesting to see than the Brookside tent. For one, there were more floats in progress there. For another, guests walked through the pavilion on a catwalk to get a bird's-eye view of the decorating.
It was mind-boggling to see the volunteers' intricate work.
Even though Katie was a little underwhelmed, seeing these floats was a dream come true for me. I've watched the Rose Parade all my life, so I had always wanted to see them being put together. Now I can knock an item off my "bucket list."
Outside the float decorating areas we wandered around in the rain, soaking in the atmosphere while getting soaked! Although it was wet and cold, the weather undoubtedly thinned out the crowds for us.
We saw all kinds of signs, warning visitors of the long waits ahead. We, on the other hand, were able to walk right in to both pavilions. Sweet.
P.S. - What wasn't so sweet?
Seeing the Rose Bowl across the way. Even though it was the location of the GREATEST COLLEGE FOOTBALL GAME EVER PLAYED (amen), it's also where my heart was broken last January when a certain quarterback had to leave the game because of a nerve injury. Wah. I still haven't recovered, but someday...