Pasadena is a middle-sized town that manages to keep a cozy small-city atmosphere. Located just 10 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles and famous for the Rose Bowl football game and the Tournament of Roses Parade where thousands of people line up to see Pasadena’s Rose Parade in person every New Year’s morning. Seeing the parade in person is the best way to experience the pageantry, the sights, the sounds and even the smells of it all. Even when watching the Tournament of Roses parade on a big screen television you don’t understand the size of everything. The floats are huge with thousands of flowers on each one. You can actually smell them as they “float” by. You can actually feel the music in your chest from the music of the bands. You see the majesty of the horses in the equestrian units. The pageantry of it all makes getting up early or staying out all night to get a seat on the parade route well worth the effort.
So here are three tips for going to see the Rose Parade in person:
1. There is paid grand stand seating available along most of the parade route. The most desirable seating is close to the corner of Orange Grove and Colorado Blvd. This is where the parade officially starts and all the television cameras are set up. The bands are loudest, the flowers are freshest and excitement electrifies the air. This is also the most expensive seating and the hardest to get to. The reason it is harder to get to is the entire area is blocked off to traffic. You will have to arrive earlier, park farther away and walk in or pay for a special bus ride to bring you close. If you buy seating farther down the five and a half mile route you can arrive later to take your seat. It is also less crowded and you can park closer. A company called Sharp Seating handles most if not all of the grand stand seating tickets along the route.
2. Of course you do not have to buy a ticket to see the parade! You can sit or stand along the route and enjoy it all for free. You will have to get up even earlier to get a good spot or sleep out all night to get some curbside seating however. Right now the rule is you cannot stake out a spot and camp out before noon on December 31st. At noon you can claim a spot with chairs and sleeping bags. An adult has to be on location at all times. You can even bring a camp stove to keep warm late at night. You should check the Pasadena police department’s website as it spells out the current laws and rules. The best place to sleep out is on Orange Grove before the parade gets to its starting point at Orange Grove and Colorado. Why? Orange Grove has grass to sleep on whereas on Colorado you will be sleeping on a concrete sidewalk! Another reason to pick Orange Grove is that is where all the floats line up the night before. You get to walk down the street, see and smell the flowers on all the wonderful floats before the parade. There is activity on Orange Grove most of the night as this is also where the Tournament of Roses headquarters is. Out in front of there you will see newscasters, celebrities, the Rose Queen and her court come and go. The downside to Orange Grove is the farther south you are from Colorado Blvd. the less of the overall parade you will see. If you are south of the streets where the bands or equestrian units feed onto Orange Grove and into the parade you will miss them.
3. The third tip concerns the White Suiters. What is a White Suiter? They are the members of the Tournament of Roses. They plan and put on the entire parade. On New Year’s Day you can spot them in their white suit uniforms. Ask them any question you might have. They love to help people enjoy the parade and will do their best to help you. They are the most knowledgeable of anyone out there about what is going on, what will happen before and during the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl Football game. Of course, they don’t know everything but they have the best information so don’t be afraid to approach them for help.
There are lots of police out on the parade route all night long to keep things safe. There are patrols of the Red Cross to help out with minor emergencies. Porta potties are along the route. So if you have never seen Pasadena’s Rose Parade in person don’t be afraid to come out and enjoy it. Lots of people do it, some even do it every year!