The 123rd edition of Tournament of Roses Parade came off without a hitch Monday as 100 golden palominos and the Roy Rogers tribute float closed out the official festivities.
The float celebrated what would have been Rogers' 100th birthday. That float was manned by Rogers' son -- Roy Rogers Jr. -- and grandson, Dustin, who sang Roy Roger's theme song "Happy Trails." The song was written by Roy Roger's wife, Dale Evans. The float also included Rogers' stuffed and mounted horse, Trigger, and dog, Bullet.
Roy Rogers and his family were long-time Chatsworth residents.
J.R. Martinez, a U.S. Army veteran burned in combat who later won "Dancing with the Stars," was the grand marshal in the procession themed "Just Imagine ... ."
The Tournament of Roses, dating to the 1890s when the floats were horse drawn, has a "never on Sunday" tradition, and the parade was moved to Monday since New Year's fell on Sunday this year.
Forty-three floats -- all made of flowers, seeds and other natural materials -- were the main attraction, along with 21 marching bands and 26 equestrian units from around the world. Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck, atop a fine police mount, led an LAPD equestrian unit.
Tens of thousands of people camped out along Pasadena sidewalks to secure a spot for the parade. Thanks to an offshore airflow, bringing warm air to the foothill city, overnight temperatures were mostly in the 50s -- much warmer than the typical 30s. And the weather turned summer-like after sunrise. Highs around Pasadena today should be in the low 80s under cloudless skies.
About 5,000 Occupy demonstrators followed the Roy Rogers tribute float along the parade route, but the group was met mostly with cheers, and no immediate problems were reported. The Occupy camp at Los Angeles City Hall was disbanded Nov. 30, with nearly 300 people being arrested.
Paramedics treated 65 people during the parade, said Lisa Derderian of the Pasadena Fire Department. That was more than twice the 29 people treated last year -- in part because of today's sunny weather and higher temperatures.
One person also fell from a float, Derderian said.
According to the Tournament of Roses Association, the first parade was staged in 1890 by members of Pasadena's Valley Hunt Club -- former residents of the East and Midwest eager to showcase the Southland's mild winter weather.
The first parade -- something like a big community picnic -- was followed by foot races and jousts in the town square. Later, the parade would include rodeo-type events, even ostrich races.
This year's parade included a float marking the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts, which were founded in Savannah, Ga., and another sponsored by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, honoring the fundraising work done by the late Elizabeth Taylor.
Another float paid homage to Loyola Marymount University in its 100th year.
Atop the Kaiser Permanente float was 13-year-old Mikavla Minnig, who has had juvenile arthritis since he was 3 and has worked for years to raise awareness of the affliction. The Downey teen testified before Congress at age 9 and has led an Arthritis Walk team for the past eight years.
The parade, starting near Orange Grove Boulevard and Ellis Street, went east on Colorado Boulevard, then north on Sierra Madre Boulevard. The floats will be on display at Sierra Madre and Washington boulevards for then next couple of days, so people can see them up close.
Martinez was chosen as grand marshal because Tournament of Roses officials decided he was the perfect fit.
"J.R. is not only a courageous and engaging role model for us all but has dedicated himself to helping not only servicemen and servicewomen, but all Americans facing challenges," said Rick Jackson, president of the Tournament of Roses.
"His outlook on life is admirable and we couldn't be happier to have the chance to celebrate the New Year with him as we entertain the millions of fans around the world during the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl Game."
Martinez, 28, enlisted in the Army in 2002 and was sent to Iraq the next year. About one month into his deployment, the Humvee he was blown up by land mine. He spent nearly three years at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Tex., where he underwent 33 surgeries, including skin grafts and cosmetic surgery.
Martinez said a nurse once asked him to talk to a fellow burn patient, and that led him to become a motivational speaker. In October 2008, Martinez was cast to play combat veteran Brot Monroe on "All My Children."
Earlier this year, he won the dance competition show "Dancing with the Stars."
"To be able to participate in this iconic American tradition on New Year's Day is something I could only imagine," Martinez said. "I believe everything happens for a reason and I'm grateful the events of my life have provided me with the opportunity to share my message of hope and possibility on New Year's Day."
Drew Helen Washington, a 16-year-old Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy student, presided as Rose Queen, along with her Royal Court:
- Morgan Eliza Devaud, 18, La Canada High School;
- Stephanie Grace Hynes, 18, Maranatha High School;
- Cynthia Megan Louie, 17, La Salle High School;
- Kimberly Victoria Ostiller, 17, Flintridge Preparatory School;
- Hanan Bulto Worku, 17, Pasadena High School; and
- Sarah Nicole Zuno, 17, Benjamin Franklin High School.
-- City News Service