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Anticipation, crowds build for Rose Parade

December 31, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Thousands of people are lining up in Pasadena and staking out a spot for to watch Friday's Tournament of Roses Parade.At 12 p.m. Thursday people were officially allowed to claim their spots on Colorado Boulevard for the parade. Hundreds of people hovered over spots waiting in to stake their claim once the clock struck noon.

"We're just making our presence known right now," said Gloria Stephens who was hoping to save a spot. "We just want people to know that we are here and this is our spot."

The spaces along Colorado Boulevard are free but are first come first serve.

Some people come out every year and have become experts at picking out spots along the parade route.

"First of all you just walk your space and try to stay here until noon and you can bring your camping gear," said Gilbert Nanez.

The 121st Rose Parade, featuring marching bands, floats and equestrian units, begins at 8 a.m. Friday at Orange Grove and Colorado boulevards. The first units are expected to reach the east end of the nearly six-mile parade route about two hours later. Officials expect more than 300,000 people to turn out to Friday's parade.

Those staking out locations along the parade route must remain on the curb until 11 p.m., after which they can move as far as the blue "honor line" set up in the street.

The city has dispatched over 1400 hundred Pasadena police officers and Los Angeles county sheriff's deputies for security for the parade.

Pasadena Police Chief Chris Vicino said it takes layers of security to address everything from too much drinking to terrorism.

"Since 2001 things have changed on the parade route in terms of the number of people we put out, we've increased that, the intelligence that we gather and the things that we have to look out for," said Vicino.

The Pasadena Fire Department issued a series of do's and don'ts for parade-goers:

-- Small, professionally made barbecues that are at least one foot off the ground are permitted, but must be 25 feet from buildings or combustibles. A fire extinguisher and water must be readily available.

-- Youths under age 18 can be along the parade route from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. only if they are supervised by adults.

-- Spectators should dress for cold overnight weather.

-- Anyone seeing suspicious activities or packages should report them to emergency authorities along the parade route. Emergencies can be reported by calling (626) 744-4241 or 911.

-- Open containers of alcohol are prohibited in all public areas.

-- Tents, sofas and boxes that can be used as stools or seats are prohibited, as are unoccupied chairs.

-- Bonfires and fireworks are also banned.

-- No items can be sold along the parade route without a permit.

-- Spectators cannot cordon off any public areas.

-- No ladders or scaffolding may be used as elevation to view the parade.

-- It is illegal to buy, sell or give away horns along the parade route.

-- People are discouraged from bringing pets, because they can be easily frightened by loud noises.

-- Selling spaces along the route is illegal.

-- Throwing projectiles into the parade is prohibited.

-- Vehicles blocking emergency lanes will be towed.

-- Walking in the street is not permitted during the parade.

The 41 elaborate floats in this year's parade, "2010: A Cut Above the Rest," promise to entertain.

Wildlife expert Jack Hanna will once again ride on a float sponsored by Rainbird, and this year it features representations from rare mountain gorillas from Rwanda.

"The challenge was really great this year to do gorillas. I can't believe they pulled it off," Hanna said.

The Donate Life float highlights the importance of organ donation around the world. The float is decorated and designed by transplant recipients, living organ donors and family members of deceased donors.

"We infuse it with so much personal meaning every year, including dedicated roses on the float, thousands of them that come from all 50 states, Canada and all over the world," said Bryan Stewart of Donate Life.

Stewart said they are hoping the public will be inspired to sign up as organ donors.

The grand marshal will be pilot Chesley Sullenberger, who in January successfully landed a U.S. Airways jetliner in the Hudson River after the aircraft ran into a flock of birds. All 155 passengers survived.

The Mexican government is sponsoring its first Rose Parade float in more than 40 years in honor of the 200th anniversary of Mexican Independence.

Also for the first time, Major League Baseball will have a float. It will include a replica of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim home stadium and a baseball player. Members of an Anaheim Boys & Girls Club will ride on the float.

For the second year, Rose Parade fans will join the judges in awarding the trophies for the 2010 Rose Parade Float Awards. The viewers' choice award will give everyone the chance to vote for their favorite float from one of this year's 41 eligible entries.

Parade officials and volunteers will be on hand this week to take calls from local and out-of-state visitors coming to see the bowl game and parade. The Pasadena Convention and Visitors Bureau launched its annual hotline Tuesday for anyone with questions about the event. You can call toll-free through Jan. 7 at (877) 793-9911.

If you don't want to call, you can text your Rose Parade questions this year. Just text the word "roses," followed by your question, to the number 95495, and a tournament representative will respond. The service will be available from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. through Thursday.

City News Service contributed to this report.