If you stuck your nose into a cupboard-under-the-stairs-sized closet with all the world’s flower shops crowded inside, then inhaled for a solid 60 seconds, you’d have a pretty good idea of what Pasadena’s Tournament of Roses Parade smells like.
Roses mingled with magnolias alongside asters bundled with buttercups.
After passing by one particularly fragrant float — the most decorated listed in the parade program, Singpoli American’s “Legend of the Dragon Gate” creation, boasted 250,000 blooms — I was ready to buy bottled Rose Parade perfume.
A longtime volunteer told us when we picked up our credentials that you need “Smell-O-Vision” to fully appreciate the fragrance of all the flower-covered floats.
He was right.
Bundled up in a hat, gloves, coat, turtleneck and hand warmers (Cali is cold at 8 in the morning, y’all), I rang in the New Year watching floats featuring everything from a Trader Joe’s exploding popcorn top hat to Jesus driving a boat streaming down West Colorado Boulevard. Approximately a million people attend the longest parade in the U.S. every year, a polished production that snakes 5 ½ miles through downtown Pasadena.
The 5 a.m. wake-up call required to attend America’s foremost flower festival was worth it. Nestled beside the NBC broadcast booth in the third row of the media bleachers — I kept looking to my left, stealing glances at Al Roker and Hoda Kotb — I took in two hours of floats, marching bands and high-stepping equestrians.
Elephants and giraffes frolicking next to a 16-foot waterfall on the Dole float, marching bands making their way down the street to the tune of “Star Wars” and “Everything’s Coming up Roses,” Andy Grammar grooving in front of the grandstands. . .
It was the first New Year’s Day in 21 years I haven’t spent with my family.
It was worth it.
By Sarah Bahr | @smbahr14