Monday, January 02, 2006

never on Sunday

It didn't quite feel like New Year's Day yesterday without the Tournament of Roses Parade. The parade always moves to January 2 when the new year begins on a Sunday. Normally I would plant myself in front of the TV for several hours today but I will be at work during the parade. Rather than flip between channels, I will have to choose one network to record on my TiVo.

Knoxville-based HGTV will do a good job with their two hours and fifteen minutes of commercial-free coverage. The lovely Nancy O'Dell will co-host NBC's coverage but they will only be on for an hour and a half. ABC's coverage will last two hours but they only air the parade as a contractual obligation (to get the football game) and they don't seem happy about it. Univision covers the parade with some great camera positions but I don't understand enough Spanish to enjoy it. In the past, I would tune in for a minute or two until they said I word I recognized.

This year, CBS bailed out of covering the parade at all. I had always wondered why so many networks carried the Rose Parade. During the time I lived in L.A., KTTV threw in the Rose towel and conceded to KTLA, which would repeat their parade broadcast all day and get the best ratings for it.

As a former Southern Californian, I think I will record the KTLA broadcast, which is simulcast on the Travel Channel. There's something delightfully cheesy about the way Bob Eubanks and Stephanie Edwards describe the parade each year. Ken Levine said it best the other day when he wrote:
If you are from anywhere other than Los Angeles, a New Year's tradition is saying "who is Stephanie Edwards"?
My family and I went to watch the parade in person one year when KROQ's Jed the Fish invited us to a New Year's Eve party at his home in Pasadena. Around 2 or 3 a.m. we walked along the street where the floats were lining up. The best part of seeing the floats up close is the smell. We had to remove our shoes when we got back to Jed's house because the fans camped out along the parade route were tossing marshmallows at each other and they got the street all sticky. After a couple of hours of sleep we watched the parade from atop stepladders provided by our host.

The City of Burbank has one of the last self-built floats in the parade
(most of the floats are built by companies like Phoenix Decorating or Fiesta Parade Floats). For a few years, our family volunteered to help decorate the Burbank float during the week between Christmas and New Year's. We worked on "Grandma's Attic," "To The Future... At Full Throttle" and "The All American Barbershop Quartet." We spent a few hours each day gluing silverleaf or dry materials onto the float, unpacking flowers shipped in from Hawaii, or prepping roses and putting them into little vials of water.

One year we were stripping thorns off roses when the old lady in charge sent a new volunteer to help us. We showed the newbie how to use a tool to strip the thorns and how to fill the little vials from a bucket of cold water with a floral preservative added. The young woman told us she couldn't do any of those tasks because she was a hand model.

This year, Burbank's float will be number 79 in the line of march. We'll be watching for it and rooting for them to win a decent trophy this year.
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