A stealth plane flyover kicked off the show and the procession of floats that followed included an eclectic mix of surfing dogs, a Sikh temple, the US cavalry and a Monkey King with a flaming spear.
The whole thing began back in 1890 when members of Pasadena’s Valley Hunt Club were trying to think of ways to encourage winter visitors to the area. A series of competitions from chariot races to tug-of-war were planned and, knowing how cold the US’ East Coast is in January while Pasadena has an abundance of flowers even in the darkest of months, they hit upon the idea of a Rose Parade on 1 January as a colourful way to start the games.
The tradition has continued ever since, growing bigger every year and following a ‘never on a Sunday’ rule (2017’s event was held on Monday 2nd for this reason) that goes back to the parade’s earliest days when organisers didn’t want to disturb horses tied up outside the town’s churches.
Some 44 floats and 22 marching bands took part this year, looked after by over 900 white-uniformed volunteers and watched by thousands on the ground and millions on TV (the show is televised across the US). Several awards were given for float design, including ‘Best depiction of life in the USA’, which went to Ragú pasta sauce, and ‘Most outstanding display of fantasy and imagination’, which was given to The Monkey King float.
The highlight for many though (including one TV presenter who got very excited when he saw it) was the Gnarly Crankin’ K-9 Wavemaker – surfing dogs in a wave-machine water tank which, at almost 150,000 pounds, was the heaviest float the parade has ever seen.