Rose Parade 2002 takes on a Fourth of July look

By Leon Drouth-Keith The Associated Press
Thursday January 03, 2002

PASADENA — Revelers at the nation’s premiere New Year’s Day parade decided to let the “Good Times” roll with a patriotic burst of red, white and blue flowers, floats and fireworks that could have easily been mistaken for a Fourth of July celebration. 

Soon after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, organizers of Pasadena’s 113th Tournament of Roses parade pledged to infuse their 2002 theme, “Good Times,” with as much patriotism as possible. 

They delivered on that promise Tuesday, putting on a 2 1/2-hour spectacle that featured an American flag so big it took 32 people to carry it. 

The event, kicked off by a Marine Corps Marching Band performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” included dozens of red, white and blue floats from which such wholeheartedly American songs as Neil Diamond’s “America” and Pete Seeger’s “If I Had a Hammer” were broadcast to whoops of approval. 

“We’re all hopeful this is going to be a better year,” said Lisa Kaufman, 28, of Los Angeles, holding her 8-month-old son, Max. 

Her family attended the parade not quite four months after they were stranded in New York City by the airline shutdown that followed the terrorist attacks. It left them with plenty of time to stare out their hotel window at the smoke curling up from the collapsed towers of the World Trade Center. 

The much-happier scene they witnessed Tuesday was one of thousands of people sharing doughnuts, coffee, parade programs and friendly conversation. 

“It’s changed people’s outlook since September 11,” Celeste Knapper, 23, of Lincoln, Neb., said as a float featuring Uncle Sam on a motorcycle swept down Orange Grove Boulevard. 

The parade began with an introduction from grand marshal Regis Philbin, a burst of fireworks and flyovers by fighter jets and a B-2 stealth bomber. 

Its first float, American Honda Motor Co.’s “Born in the USA” entry, awed spectators with its 50-foot robot wearing a red, white and blue helmet and its floral representations of U.S.-developed machinery ranging from a lawnmower engine to rocket boosters. 

The city of Los Angeles’ float, a huge Cadillac convertible covered with pink carnations, carried a handful of New York City police officers. It was greeted with ovations from spectators who stood several rows deep all along the 5 1/2-mile parade route. 

Members of equestrian groups,meanwhile, dressed themselves and their mounts in variations of the red-white-and-blue motif and were as likely to shout “God bless America” as “Happy New Year” to the crowd. 

“Wonderful,” said Mary Pat Haas, who traveled to Pasadena from her New York City home to watch her nephew drive the Eastman Kodak float. 

“I’m glad they’re all out here and the terrorists aren’t keeping them home,” she said of the parade’s spectators. 

Pasadena police said the crowd of hundreds of thousands appeared to be smaller than usual, although specific estimates were not immediately available. Cmdr. Mary Schander said chilly, damp weather left behind by a series of rainstorms that hit the area earlier in the week was likely to blame. 

The day began under cloudy skies that finally gave way to sunshine as the last of the parade’s 107 entries was reaching its destination, Pasadena’s Victory Park. 

Not all the entries reached the finish line without incident. The start of the parade was delayed for several minutes when the pace car conked out and a tow truck was dispatched to jump start the 2002 Honda sports utility vehicle. 

Later, the Royal Court was temporarily stranded after their float broke down along the route. Rose Queen Caroline Hsu and the six princesses kept their poise and waved at the audience as they were towed the rest of the way. 

Brake trouble halted the entry by Guide Dogs for the Blind. A tow truck pulled it past television cameras then parked it along the curb for repairs. 

The entry carried New Jersey resident Michael Hingson, who was led out of the north tower of the World Trade Center by his guide dog Roselle just 20 minutes before it collapsed. 

With police keeping a stepped-up presence along the parade route, there were few serious incidents and only 59 arrests, compared with 78 last year. Thirty-three were for being drunk in public and nine involved felony charges ranging from assault on a police officer to driving drunk. 

The heavier-than-usual law-enforcement presence included agents with the FBI and U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms who were posted at the start of the parade with a bomb-sniffing dog. 

Most parade-goers took the tougher security — including bag searches and new access restrictions — in stride. 

“I appreciate their need to make (increased security) happen,” said Bob Porlier, a 57-year-old Duarte resident who patrolled the parade route years ago as a sheriff’s deputy. “They should do it every year.”