Millions turn out for 2009 Rose Parade

PASADENA, Calif. Beautiful weather helped usher in the 120-year-old tradition.

The theme of the 2009 parade was "Hats Off to Entertainment". The floral entries celebrated the movies, theater, the playground and the great outdoors.

The nearly two-hour, five-and-a-half-mile show featured 46 floats, 22 marching bands, 18 equestrian units and a B-2 stealth bomber flyover.

The housing crisis didn't deter the National Association of Realtors, which entered its first float in the Rose Parade.

The realtors' float - planned more than a year ago, before the flood of foreclosures and the credit crunch that has made mortgages hard to come by - was dubbed "Celebrating the Dream of Homeownership for 100 Years." It showcased a Victorian-style house covered with corn husks, coconut flakes, sesame seeds, roses and orchids.

That long-term planning also applied to some parade-watchers such as Gail and George Braun, who came from Pasadena, Md., to attend the parade and to pull for Penn State against USC in the Rose Bowl game later Thursday. The No. 5 USC Trojans went on to beat the sixth-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions, 38-24.

"The stock market has impacted us, but we planned this back in March," George Braun said. "If it was planned last month, we might not be doing this."

"It's been a dream to come through here," Gail Braun said. "I just love the flowers."

For the second straight year, the irrigation firm Rain Bird won the prestigious Sweepstakes Trophy for most beautiful float. Its Safari-themed entry, "Entertaining Expedition," featured flowing water, a giant moving elephant and three giraffes made out of marigold petals, Spanish mosses and other materials.

This year's grand marshal was 82-year-old actress and recent "Dancing with the Stars" contestant Cloris Leachman.

Some floats featured other famous faces.

Cynthia Nixon, an Emmy-award winning actress from "Sex and the City" and a breast cancer survivor, was perched on the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer float "Hope Grows," which featured an elaborate garden scene with Vera Bradley handbags popping from the flowers.

Actor Dick Van Patten waved to crowds from a seat atop the float from his company, Natural Balance Pet Foods, which featured a giant dog made out of golden flax and white rice seed on a skateboard.

"That dog is skateboarding!" yelled 8-year-old Frida Isiordia of Los Angeles, pointing to one of two real bulldogs who took turns skating in circles on a built-in track on the float.

Police Lt. Randell Taylor said thousands of parade watchers had staked out viewing spots as early as Wednesday night.

Police arrested 42 people along the parade route, mostly for public intoxication. One man was arrested for throwing beer bottles into the crowd; he was subdued by bystanders until police arrested him for assault with a deadly weapon, Taylor said.

Parade floats will be on display at a park at Sierra Madre and Washington Boulevards until Jan. 3. The documentary "Creating the Parade Magic" will be screened throughout the event.

You can get an close view of the design and detail during the following dates and times:
Jan. 1, 1 p.m. - 5 p.m. (general admission)
Jan. 2 & 3, 7 a.m. - 9 a.m. (senior citizens and disabled guests only)
Jan. 2 & 3, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. (general admission)

Admission is $7 for adults. Children under the age of five are admitted for free. Ticket sales end at 2:30 p.m. and guest admittance ends at 3 p.m. Tickets are sold at the event and advance tickets are available from Sharp Seating (626) 795-4171

Venue closes promptly at 5 p.m. No pets, bicycles, skates, skateboards or Segways are allowed in the park. Wheelchairs are not available for rent.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.



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