"In societies where Robbing Hoods are treated like a celebrity it is but natural to expect political parties to act like a Mafia syndicate" Political Jaywalker "In a nation where corruption is endemic people tend to confuse due process with aiding and abetting criminals" Political Jaywalker "War doesn't determine who is right, war determines who is left" Bertrand Russell "You have just one flash flood of money, you keep your people poor. It's like a time bomb and it's scary" Philippine Lawmaker

Pasadena Rose Parade

One of the floral floats negotiating a stretch of Colorado Bl. in Pasadena during the 2009 Rose Parade

New Year's Day – The rains and truly cold mornings of the previous days gave way to a warm, pleasant sunshine as the flower-bedecked floats, many reflecting the theme "Hats off to Entertainment" about movies, sports and other forms of enjoyment rolled down the 5.5-mile route starting at the city's Colorado and Orange Grove boulevards. Other floats had something to do with science and education and fantasy. There were familiar cartoon characters, a 49-foot-tall robot, knights of Camelot, and an imagining of mythical Oz.

In all, the 120th version of the two-hour parade featured 46 giant animated floats each costing not a few hundreds of thousand dollars, 22 marching bands mostly accompanied by cheering teams, 18 spirited equestrian teams, and classic cars carrying dignitaries and entertainment personalities. The U.S. Air Force dispatched its Stealth fighter plane to make a flyover; some helicopters and a dirigible were likewise overhead. Alongside the route – devoid of vehicles but packed since the night before with campers – the hordes of spectators estimated at 700,000 join the millions more on TV to make the annual event one of the most viewed locally and in other parts of the world. This year the parade was beamed on ABC, NBC, Univision, HGTIV, Travel Channel, RFD-TV, KWHY, and KTLA. It is also viewed in more than 200 international territories, it is said.

The celebration started in 1890 as a good-natured ribbing by former residents of the East and Midwest to tell the world that while people elsewhere were freezing in cold weather, in their new place of residence "our flowers are blooming and our oranges are about to bear." A major sports event was added in 1900 the Rose Bowl, billed as a game of East versus West. The twin events has grown to such an immense sizes and fame that it not only serves as an added come-on for those intending to immigrate to California, it has also become an ample source of municipal income for Pasadena.

The Philippines figured in the history of the annual event with a float participation in the 1917 parade. It consists of three ladies in terno and a nipa hut mounted on a four-wheeled vehicle and bearing the insignia CITY OF MANILA. Our country had two other yearly participations about a decade ago and both entries – said to be the only ones on record officially sponsored by a foreign government – won awards. However, there were regular participations from other countries such as that of China Airlines, which won the International Trophy this year.

Leading to the yearly Tournament of Roses is the much-heralded screening for Rose Parade Queen & Royal Court every September when thousands of young ladies go through a month long interview to be considered. In 1994, Erica Beth Brynes had the distinction of being the first Filipino-American to reign over the festivities. The following year, another beauty with Fil-Am roots - Melissa Dittmar - was selected as one of the princesses. The 2009 Rose Queen is Courtney Lee, 17, of Arcadia High School.

Other pre-parade activities include a float viewing and volunteering to participate in the finishing touches of the float entries, a Bandfest and Equestfest. Then there are the post-show viewing and the world famous Rose Bowl Game. This year the USC Trojans won over Penn State Nittany Lions.

Pasadena, located at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains just a few miles from downtown Los Angeles, bills itself as a city that feels like a village. A splendid place where old money reputedly abounds and a showcase of what's beautiful and respectable of Traditional Americana, its New Year grand parade competes for the area's crowds that otherwise are inured to star-rated functions and abundance of celebrities.

Dionesio C. Grava - Part-time community journalist based in Los Angeles and editorial writer at Forum Asia.

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