Rose Parade returns to Pasadena amid Omicron surge, smaller crowd

The Rose Parade is again.

After the coronavirus compelled its first cancellation since World Battle II final 12 months, the whimsical, flower-filled procession returned to Pasadena on Saturday.

The parade started at 8 a.m. Pacific, with actor and tv host LeVar Burton serving as grand marshal. The theme is “Dream. Obtain. Imagine.”

Whereas the return of the Rose Parade is seen by many as a cheerful respite from two painful pandemic years, it’s clouded by a dramatic surge in COVID-19 circumstances fueled by the extremely contagious Omicron variant.

As spectators from throughout the nation lined Colorado Boulevard, almost 1 in 4 individuals in Los Angeles County who’re being examined are constructive for the coronavirus, and every day totals of latest, confirmed infections are doubling each two days.

The parade crowd was smaller than in years previous. Though some individuals had been camped alongside the route since noon on New Yr’s Eve — a beloved custom for these hoping to attain a very good view of the floats — many arrived Saturday morning and located a front-row spots and, pratically exceptional, good parking.

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Images: After canceling final 12 months, 2022 Rose Parade again in full bloom

On the 2022 Rose Parade in Pasadena on New Yr’s Day, smaller crowds greet the flower-covered floats on Colorado Boulevard.

On Thursday, Kaiser Permanente canceled plans to have front-line medical staffers take part within the Rose Parade.

“We should prioritize the well being and security of our front-line medical workers and guarantee we’re in a position to deal with sufferers throughout this latest surge of COVID-19 circumstances brought on by the Omicron variant,” the healthcare system stated in an announcement.

Kaiser had deliberate to have 20 medical staff driving and strolling in entrance of its float, which known as “A More healthy Future” and options the figures of 4 youngsters, together with one carrying a stethoscope and caring for a teddy bear named Booster. The float will nonetheless be within the parade.

Quite a few well being and security measures are being taken by occasion organizers, together with the cancellation of indoor occasions main as much as the parade.

“All of the planning that now we have accomplished has positioned us effectively to have the ability to host the Rose Parade in a secure and wholesome method,” stated David Eads, govt director of the Match of Roses.

“The general sense of renewal and rebirth of the Rose Parade is forefront with everyone. We’ve provide you with a few phrases for it: ‘One parade, two years within the making,’ and ‘The bloom is again.’”

The Match of Roses is requiring the 6,000-plus parade contributors, together with individuals on floats, marching bands and equestrians, to offer proof of vaccination or a detrimental coronavirus take a look at inside 72 hours of the beginning of the occasion.

Parade spectators ages 12 and up in ticketed areas, together with grandstands, additionally had to offer proof of vaccination or a detrimental take a look at. Attendees ages 2 and up in these areas had been required to put on a masks.

Alongside the remainder of the 5.5-mile route, the place individuals can simply stroll up and watch, vaccination and detrimental take a look at outcomes weren’t checked.

Earlier than the parade started, Craig Farestveit jogged alongside an empty Colorado Boulevard with two pals, as he has accomplished yearly for a decade.

Even with out a parade final 12 months, they jogged the path to attempt to maintain the festive spirit alive.

“It’s good being again, seeing the tortillas on the street, modern bedding conditions,” Farestveit stated as he peered round at campers who rang within the new 12 months on the road. (For years, it has been a practice for campers to throw tortillas full of shaving cream at passing vehicles.)

Farestveit and his pals shook their heads when requested if the Omicron surge made them take into account sitting this 12 months out, saying working was one of many issues they’ve been in a position to do safely collectively.

“On the top of COVID, on our deep path runs, everyone was masked up; it was fascinating,” stated his good friend, Tom Queally, 60.

Simply earlier than dawn, Leslie Lemus and her household plopped their tenting chairs alongside Colorado Boulevard within the Pasadena Playhouse District.

In years previous, at that hour, the sidewalks would have been jam-packed with spectators. However Lemus discovered simple, shut parking and loads of viewing house.

“You get like VIP views!” Lemus advised her 8-year-old daughter, who sat bundled in a thick, hooded jacket.

“I’m shocked there aren’t extra individuals,” stated Lemus, who wore a black surgical masks.

Lemus figured the smaller crowd was due to the coronavirus surge. She stated she felt secure on Saturday as a result of her total household was vaccinated and was placing some house between themselves and different attendees.

Close by, Danelle Sullivan, 45, of Highland Park, utilized make-up to her eyes with a small compact mirror as her 9-year-old daughter slept subsequent to her on an inflatable mattress, clutching a stuffed horse with a Rose Parade bandana round its neck.

Sullivan watched the parade on tv as a baby however stated it’s extra-special seeing it in individual.

The mom and daughter final got here in 2018. They arrived for this 12 months’s parade at midday Friday, anticipating the large crowds they noticed again then.

“We may’ve stayed hotter for longer,” Sullivan stated. “However [we’re] not likely upset. To come back out right here is an journey.”

Close to Roosevelt Avenue, Deborah Twyford, 54, of Eastvale, sat by a propane-fueled fireplace pit with crumpled confetti at her ft. Six chairs had been reserved for the remainder of her household, who arrived Friday afternoon and camped in a single day, barbecuing hamburgers and taking part in video games.

“I believed there can be extra individuals final evening for the New Years celebration, and I believed I’d get up to rows of chairs from what I’d learn,” she stated. “I’m actually shocked.”

This 12 months’s parade options 43 floats, 20 marching bands and 18 equestrian items, in line with the Match of Roses.

Michelle Van Slyke, senior vp of promoting and gross sales for the UPS Retailer, stated in an interview that preparations for the corporate’s float — which known as “Rise, Shine & Learn!” and includes a bespectacled, brilliant yellow rooster named Charlie studying to a bunch of chicks — has been occurring for a few 12 months.

The float received the parade’s prestigious Sweepstakes award this 12 months.

In 2020, float planning was already underway when the Match of Roses pulled the plug on the occasion due to the pandemic. However the UPS Retailer, she stated, “had our arms full” as a necessary enterprise that stayed open amid lockdowns.

This week, as the ultimate decorations had been being utilized to the float, she stated that “security is the primary precedence” and that masking and social distancing have been important.

The corporate’s float is gigantic: 35 ft tall and 55 ft lengthy. Van Slyke stated it weighs about 24 tons, with 12 shifting elements and 130,000 flowers.

“In case you’re going to do it, do it in a method that’s going to be enjoyable and magical,” she stated. “Everyone knows we’re within the life’s-too-short class as of late, and we need to deliver some brightness after every part we’ve been by way of these final two years.”

Van Slyke grew up in San Bernardino and got here to the Rose Parade 12 months after 12 months together with her grandfather, a development employee who got here yearly, even when he was by himself. They’d spend the evening alongside the parade route with chorizo and egg burritos and scorching chocolate in thermoses.

“My grandfather would simply be ecstatic if he knew I used to be concerned in placing a float collectively,” she stated.

Regardless of the festive ambiance and postcard-perfect blue skies, some attendees stated COVID-19 was by no means removed from their minds.

“COVID worries me basically, like on a regular basis,” stated Kathleen Peralta-Wente, who shouted, “Pleased New Yr!” at each passing float and band whereas standing atop a kitchen stool close to Madison Avenue to see over different spectators’ heads.

A number of of Peralta-Wente’s family examined constructive for the coronavirus after gathering for Christmas, she stated.

Peralta-Wente, 55, a lifelong Pasadena resident, quarantined at house all week and examined detrimental earlier than the parade, which she has attended at the least 25 occasions.

“We didn’t exit,” she stated of herself and her husband. “We Postmated and Instacarted our method by way of that.”

She stated she plans to get a booster shoot quickly, with added motivation after this week’s scare.

Valerie Brown, 62, of Loma Linda, sat with a number of relations close to Lake Avenue, carrying a Pleased New Yr headband.

“Generally I’ve been right here when it’s so crowded you’ll be able to’t transfer,” Brown stated from the unobstructed front-row spot she snagged Saturday morning. “So it’s good having much less individuals.”

After shifting to California in 1986, Brown made it a precedence to attend the parade as a lot as doable. Her father had at all times wished to return.

“We grew up in Indiana watching the Rose Parade, however we may by no means afford to go,” Brown stated. “We’d speak about how he at all times wished to observe it.”

Her father liked the marching bands. He performed tuba in his highschool band. Brown performed the flute, her sister performed the clarinet, one brother performed the saxophone, and one other brother performed the trumpet.

Brown’s son was a percussionist and nonetheless does music for a dwelling, she stated.

She was in a position to deliver her father to the parade one time. A bucket-list merchandise, checked off.

Instances workers writers Salma Loum and Anumita Kaur contributed to this report.

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Jonah Valdez is a reporter on the Los Angeles Instances. Earlier than becoming a member of The Instances, he labored for the Southern California Information Group, the place he coated breaking information and wrote award-winning function tales on matters corresponding to mass shootings, labor and human trafficking, and actions for racial justice. Valdez was raised in San Diego and attended La Sierra College in Riverside, the place he edited the campus newspaper. Earlier than graduating, Valdez interned at his hometown paper, the San Diego Union-Tribune, with its Watchdog investigations workforce. His earlier work could be present in Voice of San Diego and the San Diego Reader. When not working, Valdez finds pleasure in writing and studying poetry, working, thrifting and experiencing meals and music with family and friends. He’s a member of the 2021-22 Los Angeles Instances Fellowship class.

Jaimie Ding is a reporter on the Los Angeles Instances. Earlier than becoming a member of The Instances, she wrote for the Oregonian, the Sacramento Bee, the Related Press and Claremont Schools newspaper, the Pupil Life. Ding was raised within the Portland, Ore., space and graduated from Scripps School with a level in politics. Exterior of journalism, she’s additionally enthusiastic about good meals and dwell music. She is a member of the 2021-22 Los Angeles Instances Fellowship class.

Kenan Draughorne is a reporter on the Los Angeles Instances. He graduated from the College of Southern California, the place he served as an editor on the Every day Trojan. Earlier than becoming a member of The Instances, he was an area editor at Patch and wrote for music publications corresponding to DJBooth, HipHopDX and Ones to Watch. When he’s not writing a narrative, you could find him skating throughout Dockweiler Seaside, taking part in the drums or furiously updating his Spotify playlists. He’s a member of the 2021-22 Los Angeles Instances Fellowship class.

Hailey Branson-Potts is a Metro reporter for the Los Angeles Instances who joined the newspaper in 2011. She grew up within the small city of Perry, Okla., and graduated from the College of Oklahoma.

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