Senior Scene: Rose Parade rhapsody
I’m so proud to be an American, as I watch the Rose Parade on television. Seeing an abundance of floats, thousands of flower blossoms, filmy grasses, slips of bark, even seeds, all so lovingly applied, reaches deep feelings. Billions of people around the world look on in amazement at the unfolding of this ephemeral and unwieldy spectacle. Why are they doing this, they must wonder. The answer is because we Americans consider beauty important and should be made a fuss over.
The Tournament of Roses Association began as a small-town parade in 1895. Its purpose was to entice freezing easterners to come west and discover the wonderland we have. Since then the Parade has blossomed (it just happened, sorry). Top notch sponsors pay large sums of money to professional float builders to design lavishly engineered floats. Closer to home, small organizations with stretched budgets put out the call and volunteers by the thousands heed that call.
From the Stealth Bomber fly-over at the beginning, clear through to the fading sounds of the last marching band, a panoply of beauty passes by. For 5 ½ miles, young men and women strut their stuff, filling the air with their rousing music. Other attractions plea for attention. A group of thigh high, miniature horses comes our way, each squired by a caretaker. Their forte is to bring a smile to the faces of people in hospitals. Another horsey event are the mammoth Belgian draft horses, whose shoes are the size of frying pans.
Each year, technological prowess advances. Waterfalls, revolving stages, fireworks, bubbles, and appendages that suddenly break away and soar skyward appear.
From Japan a precision marching band, playing full out, manages to kick, gyrate and do dance moves Gene Kelly would be proud of. Members of an Australian Band in the parade, needed places to sleep while here. Their sister city in the California southland came to the fore. They invited them to be guests in their homes while they’re here.
For two fleeting hours, beauty, music and novelty attractions flow by. A contingent of sheriffs’ ride by on horseback. Their job it is to make rescues in the shadowing Sierra Madre Mountains nearby. Politics worldwide, international finance, and leadership grudges fade into obscurity. It’s a gloriously sunny day in Pasadena, and the world should know about it. Isn’t there a song entitled, “America the Beautiful,” yes, of course there is; Kate Smith made it a classic during World War II.
The Rose Parade is a chance for the world to see America’s softer side, but as an enormous Marine Corp Band marches past playing “From the Halls of Montezuma,” they witness our love of country.
America was conceived with concepts unfettered by conventionality, and the Rose Parade is an extension of that tradition. Sharing a feast of beauty and joy with the rest of the world is our way of saying, let’s make it a great year!
Ron Walker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org