Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Tournament of Roses Parade (Part 1)

Preface, 2/7/08: I can't really explain the blogging hiatus other than that most of my thoughts just haven't been put to keyboard. I'll see what I can make up for in the next moth or so. Expect more back-posted entries like this one.

As many of you have heard, Tony and I had the privilege to spend our anniversary in California this year. Next to seeing family, the highlight of the trip was undeniably the Tournament of Roses Parade. I'll spare my Illini comrades the pain of discussing "The Game" but since I'm ages overdue for an update I thought I'd lean on the Picture's Worth A Thousand Words mantra and hope that this makes up for my lack of writing. Here's a quick tour through some of our favorite floats.This one was called "Wild Western Days" and featured a full stunt team. In this shot one of the dancing girls is slapping the guy with her purse but at one point the two men were having a full fist fight on top of the float and one of them threw the other over the front of the railing. It's also a self-built float which we thought was really cool (many of the others int he parade were done by professional companies).

This is an extreme close up of a float called "Preservation Celebration". It featured giant tigers and peacocks all made of flowers and Jack Hannah from The Animal Planet was sitting on the front of it. However, Tony took this picture especially for me because despite all the cool things to see, I was pointing and telling him "It's got monkeys!!!!"

This was one of the most innovative floats in my mind. It was sponsored by Honda and was called "Passport to the Future. It started as a truck and then opened up like a Transformer to turn into a spaceship complete with an astronaut in the cockpit. It was very creative and entertaining!

No parade would be complete without a marching band and The Rose Parade featured almost two dozen of them. Call me biased, but of course The Marching Illini were by far my favorite act! Our whole section was Illini fans so we were all on our feet singing and cheering, but as is always the case these days you had a few people in the group complaining about the retirement of the University's former "mascot", Chief Illiniwek. Needless to say when this next float came by a few groups after the Illini, our section was all too glad to claim his as their own.

It was technically a float sponsored by Farmer's Insurance titled "Celebrating Our Rich Heritage" but to the die hard orange-and-blues around us the only name it needed was "CHIEEEEEEEEF!!!!"
This was a float titled "The Magic of Mardi Gras". It was sponsored by FTD and was one of the most colorful and bright floats we saw. Of course in this picture the clown face just looks a little scary.... Moving on....
"Celebrating America's Favorite Pastime" was obviously commemorating baseball and more specifically the Los Angeles Dodgers. They had really cool blue fireworks spewing out of it but the funniest part of this float was that from about the distance seen in this picture Tony was recognizing the sports legends seated behind the giant floral baseball player. If you're me, you didn't even realize at this point that there were people seated back there but sure enough baseball-boy Tony saw, recognized and named almost all of them. You can quiz yourself if you like. And I'll even provide some closeups:

To my credit I was the one to recognize and point out former Cubs shortstop Nomar Garciaparra (second from the left in the "Dugout").

(To be continued.......)

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