PASADENA, Calif. (AP) – Floral floats rolled under sunny skies as the Rose Parade drew thousands of revelers for Southern California’s colorful New Year’s Day tradition.
The 129th annual parade got started Monday in Pasadena with an announcement by the grand marshal, actor Gary Sinise, and a military flyover.
Hundreds of thousands of people lined the street to watch 39 floats decked out with countless flowers, along with show horses, marching bands and celebrities. Millions more watched on TV.
Among the floats was an award-winning entry from China Airlines featuring a scuba diver floating above fish and a coral reef. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame artists Earth Wind and Fire performed atop a red and white float recreating the Forum, the famous Los Angeles-area arena celebrating its 50th anniversary.
There were blue skies with just a few wisps of clouds and temperatures were expected to reach the 70s (about 22 degrees Celsius) after a chilly night.
It has rained only once on the Rose Parade in the past six decades — that was in 2006 — and it has never been canceled because of weather.
The theme of the 2018 parade is “Making a Difference” and Sinise was chosen to lead the proceedings because of his devotion to veteran’s issues.
Sinise, who played Vietnam vet Lt. Dan Taylor in 1994’s “Forrest Gump,” said when he was picked that he was happy to serve as grand marshal because of the vets he seeks to help.
“If shining a little spotlight on me on January first can shine a spotlight on them to help me make a difference in their lives, I am very, very grateful to do that,” he said.
Veterans and family members of those killed in action appeared on some of the floats.
Spectators started lining the 3.5-mile (5.6-kilometer) route on Sunday, many of them camping on sidewalks and braving overnight temperatures in the low 40s (around 5 degrees Celsius).
Pasadena Police Chief Phillip Sanchez said there were no known threats to the parade, but fan safety would remain first priority and security would be tight. No major problems were reported. There were a handful of arrests, mostly for public intoxication, police said.
The 104th Rose Bowl was scheduled later in the day just a few blocks away from the parade. The bowl will feature a College Football Playoff semifinal between Oklahoma and Georgia.
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