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It’s Rose Parade day in Pasadena, set for a rare Jan. 2 march down Colorado Boulevard

Cloudy skies and a coronavirus pandemic won’t stop Pasadena’s 134th Rose Parade from making its way through the city’s streets today, Jan. 2.

By 8 a.m., a B-1 Bomber will thunder in the San Gabriel Valley sky, and over Pasadena, marking the beginning of a 5.5-mile spectacle that has come a long way since 1890, when chariots, jousting and tug-of-wars marked the first Tournament of Roses.

People camp out along Colorado Boulevard for the 134th Rose Parade route in Pasadena on Monday, January 2, 2023. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Brian Elvira, of Los Angles, and his sleeping friend camp out along Colorado Boulevard for the 134th Rose Parade route in Pasadena on Monday, January 2, 2023. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Antonio Martinez, of Pasadena, center with his nephews Justin Ayala and Antonio Martinez camp out along Colorado Boulevard for the 134th Rose Parade route in Pasadena on Monday, January 2, 2023. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

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Soon, floats, famed equestrians and world-renowned bands, with some a year in the planning, will delight millions around the globe.

The 2023 Rose Parade is the 21st time the famed procession will begin on a Monday in the century since the Tournament of Roses began. The Tournament, itself a tradition full of traditions, last invoked the practice in 2017.

The symbolism of this year’s pageant was not lost in the Monday , though.

Read more Rose Parade coverage here.

Two years removed from a cancellation in 2021 due to the ongoing pandemic, this year’s procession from Orange Grove Boulevard to Sierra Madre Boulevard seeks to turn the corner from the changing times of COVID.

An official statement about the theme – “Turning the Corner” – from 2023 Pasadena Tournament of Roses President Amy Wainscott didn’t specifically reference the pandemic, but there was a strong hint:

“Turning a corner means rising above – alone, or with family, friends and community,” Wainscott wrote in the January announcement. “This year, as we turn the corner together, we share in the hope, beauty and joy of what 2023 will bring.”

Wainscott, the fourth woman to be president of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association, has repeated the sentiment many times in leadup to the parade, which will assemble dozens of floats, 21 marching bands and 17 equestrian units to match the theme.

The placement of the entries is carefully crafted, but they will all depict the theme using natural materials like sesame seed, cinnamon and, of course, chrysanthemums that are sure to dazzle.

Few moreso, Wsinscott said, than 2023 Grand Marshall Gabby Giffords, who will lead the procession and conduct the coin toss for the Rose Bowl Game.

Giffords, the former Arizona congresswoman turned fierce gun control advocate after she suffered severe head injuries in a mass shooting outside a grocery store in her home state was announced grand marshal in October during a festive ceremony on the steps of Pasadena’s famed Tournament House.

“I’m incredibly excited and honored to be this year’s Grand Marshal for the 134th Rose Parade. The Rose Parade has such an amazing history and this year’s theme, “Turning the Corner” resonates deeply with me,” Giffords said.

I’m so excited to be Grand Marshal of the 2023 @RoseParade tomorrow!

I’ll be in the parade in the morning alongside marching bands, floats, and horses. Then there’s the bowl game later that day where I’ll toss the coin.

I’m already looking forward to the new year! pic.twitter.com/PJkbylDC9d

— Gabrielle Giffords (@GabbyGiffords) January 1, 2023

It’s amazing to come together with people from across the United States, Giffords added, “to celebrate the new year and our collective ‘turning the corner.’”

Giffords joked she’s tried to get plenty of rest before the big day, “and I’ve been practicing my coin toss for the game,” she said. “I can’t wait to celebrate the new year with so many friends new and old.”

The sentiment rings throughout the parade’s 5.5-mile route on Monday, where “White Suiters” and the parade’s Royal Court are readying to turn the corner into 2023.

Bella Ballard — a 17-year-old Altadena teen with a love for sports, community service and collecting vinyl records — was named the 104th Rose Queen. She will join six other young women who look to inspire other young people to push forward.

Entries that will join them on Colorado Boulevard include the “Feed Your Soul” entry from the Louisiana Office of Tourism, a float that will be driven by 63 year-old Steve Altmayer of Chatsworth, who is bundling up for the 50th year in a row to drive a mobile machine in the parade.

There’s also bands from around the nation and the world, including the Rosemount High School Marching Band, the largest competitive marching band in Minnesota, and the Norfolk State University “Spartan Legion.”

The Norfolk State University “Spartan Legion” Marching Band from Norfolk, Virginia performs during the annual Tournament of Roses Bandfest at Pasadena City College stadium on Friday December 30, 2022. (Photo by Keith Durflinger, Contributing Photographer)

The Norfolk State University “Spartan Legion” Marching Band from Norfolk, Virginia performs during the annual Tournament of Roses Bandfest at Pasadena City College stadium on Friday December 30, 2022. (Photo by Keith Durflinger, Contributing Photographer)

The Norfolk State University “Spartan Legion” Marching Band from Norfolk, Virginia performs during the annual Tournament of Roses Bandfest at Pasadena City College stadium on Friday December 30, 2022. (Photo by Keith Durflinger, Contributing Photographer)

The Norfolk State University “Spartan Legion” Marching Band from Norfolk, Virginia performs during the annual Tournament of Roses Bandfest at Pasadena City College stadium on Friday December 30, 2022. (Photo by Keith Durflinger, Contributing Photographer)

The Tournament of Roses President Amy Wainscott takes a selfie in front of the Wisconsin Northwoods Marching Band during the annual Bandfest at Pasadena City College stadium on Friday December 30, 2022. (Photo by Keith Durflinger, Contributing Photographer)

The Pasadena City College Tournament of Roses Honor Band and Herald Trumpets perform during the annual Tournament of Roses Bandfest at Pasadena City College stadium on Friday December 30, 2022. (Photo by Keith Durflinger, Contributing Photographer)

The Pasadena City College Tournament of Roses Honor Band and Herald Trumpets perform during the annual Tournament of Roses Bandfest at Pasadena City College stadium on Friday December 30, 2022. (Photo by Keith Durflinger, Contributing Photographer)

The Buhos Marching Band from Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico performs during the annual Tournament of Roses Bandfest at Pasadena City College stadium on Friday December 30, 2022. (Photo by Keith Durflinger, Contributing Photographer)

The Buhos Marching Band from Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico performs during the annual Tournament of Roses Bandfest at Pasadena City College stadium on Friday December 30, 2022. (Photo by Keith Durflinger, Contributing Photographer)

Spectators brave the rain to watch bands perform during the annual Tournament of Roses Bandfest at Pasadena City College Robinson Stadium on Saturday December 31, 2022. (Photo by Keith Durflinger, Contributing Photographer)

The Pella Marching Dutch band from Pella, Iowa perform during the annual Tournament of Roses Bandfest at Pasadena City College Robinson Stadium on Saturday December 31, 2022. (Photo by Keith Durflinger, Contributing Photographer)

The Pella Marching Dutch band from Pella, Iowa perform during the annual Tournament of Roses Bandfest at Pasadena City College Robinson Stadium on Saturday December 31, 2022. (Photo by Keith Durflinger, Contributing Photographer)

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Lions International’s “Bridging the World Through Service” entry, a float constructed by the Phoenix Decorating Company, continues the organization’s participation in the parade since 1948, returning with a message that inspires everyone to work together so the impossible becomes possible.

The Salvation Army Tournament of Roses Band, which celebrated its 100th march down Colorado Boulevard in the 2019 Rose Parade, are likely to draw a few ooh and aahs as well.

On one hand, the parade is international in scope. On the other hand, it’s uniquely local, with entries from Pasadena and surrounding cities such as Downey, La Cañada Flintridge, Pomona, Torrance, Alhambra, City of Hope, Los Angeles and the Inland Empire.

With pandemic supply chain issues lingering, the task to complete the builds and turn the corner in time for Jan. 2 has been anything but easy as professional and self-built groups struggled to compile volunteers and supplies from across the world.

The week’s heavy rain also forced volunteers to don ponchos, rain boots and umbrellas as they ventured to cities like Sierra Madre and La Canada Flintridge to finalize the finishing touches on racoons and wild bears riding scooters.

If you’re wondering, rain — or as Tournament of Roses aficionados call it, The “R” Word — on the Rose Parade has traditionally been rare.

The Rose Parade itself — from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. — has never been canceled because of rain, but there is a chance it could sprinkle this year, at least later in the day.

Fans at the Rose Bowl game should bring foul weather gear as a result. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. at the fabled 100-year-old stadium and there’s a chance of rain in the forecast, starting in the afternoon.

Bad weather won’t stop the die-hards from attending as spectators began hitting the streets on Sunday morning with a plan to camp out overnight for the best spots.

Parade attendance was down last January after a canceled 2021 event. The crowds who did venture out took precautions a year later by zipping themselves into private plastic bubbles or masking up.

People use Under The Weather Instapods as they watch the 133rd Rose Parade in Pasadena on Saturday, January 1, 2022. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Ozzie Diaz, 30, with his daughter, Emily, 7, sit inside an InstaPod as they wait for the 133rd Rose Parade in Pasadena, CA., on Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022. (Photo by Trevor Stamp, Contributing Photographer)

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Vaccination and masking mandates are now a phenomenon of the past, but health experts aren’t sure the world is ready to turn its back on COVID and known preventative measures.

“We say turning the corner, but we’re at a very high point right now with numbers,” said Lisa Derderian, PIO for the City of Pasadena, which has its own health department.

In addition to coronavirus variants, there are still colds, flus and respiratory syncytial virus to contend with, said Derderian. And last week, Pasadena issued updated health orders strongly encouraging people to mask back up indoors.

As tens of thousands of visitors descend upon Pasadena this week, Derderian said health officers are thankful the city’s biggest tourist draws — the Rose Parade and the 109th Rose Bowl Game — are both outside.

People still need to take precautions, especially indoors, and in crowded outdoor locations, such as cramming onto curbsides watching the parade.

One can forego camping and parking-spot hunting by catching the 134th Rose Parade on a screen, whether it’s a TV, a tablet or a phone.

No matter the viewing platform of choice, the parade will start with the Rose Parade Opening Spectacular provided by Fitz and the Tantrums, a Los Angeles band, who will perform “Let Yourself Free,” the title track of their latest album.

Attendees should immediately look up to see a flyover from the B-1B Lancer bombers from Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota — not the prestigious B-2 Stealth Bombers — which traditionally signify the beginning of the parade at 8 a.m.

The Rose Parade Grand Finale will feature a performance by Tanya Tucker, Grammy winning singer, joined by Pasadena’s First AME Praise Team choir.

Street closures

To expedite travel in or through downtown, use Walnut Street or the 210 freeway for east/west travel north of Colorado Boulevard and use Del Mar Boulevard or Cordova Street for east/west travel south of Colorado Boulevard.

The following cross streets to Colorado will be closed to north/south travel from 10 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 1, through 6 a.m. Monday, Jan. 2:

St. John Avenue;
Pasadena Avenue;
Fair Oaks Avenue;
Marengo Avenue;
Los Robles Avenue;
El Molino Avenue;
Lake Avenue;
Wilson Avenue;
Hill Avenue;
Allen Avenue;
Craig Avenue; and
Altadena Avenue.

The parade route will reopen by 2 p.m. Monday, Jan. 2.

The California Department of Transportation will close several on-ramps and restrict turns at offramps ahead of the Rose Parade.

Caltrans will conduct traffic control at various locations and intersections. The agency will also have several signals (lights) turned off to help with traffic flow after the Rose Parade ends.

The following ramps are scheduled to close Sunday, Jan. 1 to Monday, Jan. 2:

Westbound I-210 off-ramp at Sierra Madre– 8 p.m. Sunday to 4 p.m. Monday;
Eastbound I-210 off-ramp at San Gabriel – 8 p.m. Sunday to 4 p.m. Monday;
Eastbound SR-134 off-ramp at Orange Grove – 8 p.m. Sunday to 2 p.m. Monday;
Westbound SR-134 off-ramp at Orange Grove left turn pocket- 10 p.m. Sunday to 2 p.m. Monday;
Westbound SR-134 on-ramp at Orange Grove Boulevard- 12:01 a.m. Sunday to 2 p.m. Monday;
Orange Grove Boulevard overpass (formation)- 12:01 a.m. Sunday to 11 a.m. Monday.

The following freeway ramp traffic signals are scheduled to be turned off from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 2:

Westbound SR-134 at Fair Oaks, Orange Grove;
Eastbound I-210 at Marengo, Lake, and Hill;
Westbound I-210 at Lake and Hill.

For questions about towed vehicles on New Year’s Day, call (626) 577-6426.

For more information, call the Visitor Hotline of the Pasadena Convention and Visitors Bureau at (877) 793-9911 or visit cityofpasadena.net.

Related links

10 last-minute things to know before the 134th Rose Parade in Pasadena
‘Turning the corner’ with Tournament of Roses 2023 creates a new spark of enthusiasm
A last-minute guide to seeing Rose floats up close, before or after the Rose Parade
Bandfest brings international twist to beloved pre-Rose Parade musical celebration
How hard is it for Rose Parade floats to turn a corner?

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