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Laurie Niles

January 2, 2004 at 6:11 AM

Okay, where were the marching strings?

This New Year’s morning I dragged myself out of bed and walked two blocks up my street in Pasadena, Calif., where a sea of humanity was gathered for the Rose Parade. We live near the very end of the parade, where we can witness both broken-down floats and broken-down band members who have trekked nearly five miles only to find that around this corner, there is yet more to go. We made camp with some kind friends who had been saving a certain street corner for 18 years. Really! They have laid claim to the same place every year for that long, and now it pretty much belongs to them and their friends. They camp out starting early in the morning on New Year’s Eve.

Being at the end of the parade, the atmosphere where we were was far more casual than it was at the beginning, when all the floats, band members, twirlers, horses, dogs, cowgirls and cowboys, princesses, political figures and celebrities emerge fresh and ready for the T.V. cameras. Here we witness flag girls grimacing from their unending walk in two-inch heels, vans carrying the marchers who passed out along the way, broken floats being towed, and a general breakdown in decorum. My favorite this year – so symbolic of how some of these young marchers must feel -- was a giant float of a “one-man band,” with the man purposely “decapitated” for going under a highway bridge.

I waited and waited and waited for my Satin Strings of Permian High School in Odessa, Texas, who had so impressed me with their “marching” orchestra. But I guess they were not part of the parade after all, and my apologies. They must have come all the way from Texas just to play for the directors’ banquet. Still, I think it’s great that the school orchestra got to come to the Rose Bowl. Woo-hoo!

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