It all started sometime in November, when Big Brothers of Orange County contacted Tony and asked if he and his Little, Michael, wanted to ride on a float in the Rose Parade on New Year’s Day.
They attended a publicity photo shoot at the Rose Parade Mansion in November, which is also when they first met representatives from Honda America, as well as the other float riders, and saw the float model. Then they were given t-shirts with the Big Brothers’ logo, then the realization that it would be cold the morning of the 1st, so they were also given logo jackets. Then, a couple days before the parade, they were informed that the fire marshall was requiring all the riders to wear hats, because there were fireworks and other pyrotechnics on the float. So they were given hats with logos, too. Almost a full wardrobe of things with the Big Brothers’ logo!
Michael & Tony & the Honda float model.
On 12/27, we attended the “VIP float decorating event,” where we viewed the Honda float from a catwalk, and then decorated pieces of the float that were laid out on tables. We noted on judging day (12/31) that, in actuality, the only pieces we decorated that showed up on the float were the Honda side pieces, and they were re-covered with flower petals.
My mom putting seeds on the Honda logo
The Honda float, sails down and being decorated. Visible is the rear of the float and the “fireworks boat”
On the 31st, they required the riders be present for the float judging ceremony, so we headed up to Pasadena bright and early (around noon). Seeing the float fully decorated and fully functional was an awesome sight indeed. To see my husband on the float made it spectacular!
In front of the Honda float
One thing I’ve learned in life is, if you walk or drive like you know where you’re going and act like you’re supposed to be there, more often than not you’ll get to go there whether you’re “supposed” to be there or not. That served me well several times through this event. Particularly since I have a case of laryngitis, thanks to this nasty cold I’m battling.
I’ve also learned that laryngitis sucks.
New Year’s Eve … blue moon
New Year’s eve found us staying in a 4 star hotel, courtesy of the Big Brothers organization. Unfortunately, all four of us were in various stages of battling colds… imagine, if you will, trying to cough, snort, hawuck, sniffle, etc., all quietly because you don’t want to wake the others in the room who are trying to sleep, while worrying about the 3 AM wake-up time looming over your head. I ask you to imagine that because that’s what everyone was doing in our hotel room on New Year’s eve.
At midnight a text message on Tony’s phone blared. Michael sat straight up in bed and exclaimed, “What?? It can’t be 3 AM yet, I haven’t gotten to sleep yet!!” It was the ice breaker that allowed us to give up the pretense of sleep. We opened the drapes just in time to see the last bit of fireworks off in the distance… well, I did. We laughed, chatted (some chatting was more annoying than others) and rearranged ourselves. When it all sorted out, we all ended up getting about 2 hours of sleep and mine happened on the floor of the closet in a 4 star hotel. That’s right. I stayed in a 4 star hotel and slept in the closet!
My closet bed
Beyond seeing my husband on a float in the Rose Parade, a couple highlights for me included meeting Captain Sully on the 31st. Yep, the Hudson River flight navigator himself! He said to me, “Hello! How are you doing?” I gave my standard answer that I give to all strangers who put me on the spot, a quiet “Hi!” and a big grin. This particular “hi” had the bonus of being a bit froggish, given the status of my laryngitis. I did manage to take his picture, though.
Grand Marshall for the 2010 Rose Parade, Captain Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger
Another highlight involved coffee and donuts! The morning of the 1st, I desperately needed something hot to drink. One of the white suited fellows directing people said he had visited the VIP/media area for his coffee. He said I could probably get in there if I smiled at them like I was smiling at him, and that worked great the first time. On my way down for a refill, I offered to get him a refill, too. He was so surprised that someone had thought of his needs! Sadly, the pretty smile didn’t work, so I explained my intentions (getting the white suited guy a refill) and as it turned out, my good intentions were my VIP pass the second time.
Me and my “boyfriend”, the Farmer Insurance Group’s “Salute to the Bands” float. We stared at each other for a good 2 hours the morning of the 1st. I was glad he left me when the parade started.
And my final highlight was that I somehow managed to avoid all vehicular traffic. I kept thinking I was lost or on the wrong road, because I made it to all my destinations with zero traffic. I think my drive to Pasadena was just early enough (I got there before my parking lot was even open) and when leaving the parade, I took lightly traveled streets which paralleled the main thoroughfare, which was terribly congested. Whatever the trick, I was glad for it, because I hate driving in traffic at events. Everyone drives like they forgot their brains at home, and that annoys the crap out of me.
The Rose Parade was spectacular. When I was a teenager, I went up 2 or 3 times with family friends and watched the parade toward the end of the parade route. This year, Honda gave the families of the float riders complimentary grandstand seating just before the media/VIP area. Our grandstand got extra time with each float and band because they paused for several seconds in front of us to wait for their turn in front of the media. Being at the start vs. the end of the parade makes a difference — the floats are up, and everyone is fresh and perky, including the flowers. At the end of the parade route, everyone is tired, hardly anyone is waving or smiling and the floats are down (from having gone under the bridge) and many of the floats are being towed. Also, being there in person is a far better experience than watching it on TV. This year was really a special experience.
Honda’s “Ship of Dreams,” with Michael and Tony on the rear balcony
Michael and Tony
When we finally got home the afternoon of the 1st, I took a shower and crashed. I slept from 3:30 PM through to 9:30 AM on the 2nd. I think it’s safe to say we were all exhausted.
I’ll let pictures and video tell the rest of the story. Happy New Year, everyone!
Float Decorating VIP party pictures: Link to pictures
Photo album of the 2010 Rose Parade: Link to pictures
2010 Float Judging Ceremony, the Honda float was awarded the “Tournament Special Trophy”: Link to video
ABC’s coverage of the Honda float (about 2 minutes): Link to video
Welcome to 2010!