January 2, 2006 at 2:53 PMOh woe, 2006! It rained on our parade!
Here I sit, in my little Pasadena home, one block away from the parade route for the annual Rose Parade, with torrents of rain showering the roof.
The parade usually takes place on New Year's Day. Because the holiday fell on a Sunday, though, the parade was scheduled for Jan. 2. Local lore has it that ever since the 1893 agreement with local churches to never have the parade on a Sunday, Someone Upstairs has made sunshine for the Rose Parade nearly every year. It's only rained nine times in more than 100 parades. Make that 10.
Is Someone upset?
Weather forecasters had been painting this distressing scenario for a good week. While many chose to be in denial about the weather, I chose to be in denial about the Rose Parade. I lived in Omaha, Neb. for four years. I respect Someone: Mother Nature.
But it's not easy to be in denial about the Rose Parade when it all takes place a block away from one's house. For a month now, elaborate stadium seating has been going up along Colorado Boulevard, a street that holds the addresses for much of my life's activities: the Target I go to, my favorite bookstore (Vroman's), my grocery store, car repair place, etc. Somehow I managed to find back ways to get to all my normal places, without even having to see the street itself.
We managed to get our one taste of the Rose Parade last week, when we took the children and some friends to the Rose Bowl, where hundreds of volunteers were decorating floats. It was a lazy and warm mid-day, the low winter sun smiling on hot dog and kettle corn stands, with people milling slowly about. The floats stood in large tents and a hangar, with entire rooms full of all kinds of flowers to be applied as decoration. The rule is that everything decorating the outside of each float is some kind of plant, so they are decorated with all flowers, seeds, leaves, etc.
It didn't rain yesterday morning. It started in the afternoon. We didn't do the normal drive up to the street corner, just to see everyone camping out for the parade. Instead, we took the plants in.
The kids stayed up later than usual, occasionally padding into our room to ask, “What are we doing tomorrow?” They were not comfortable with the “if, then” scenario, but they heard it again, “Well, if it's not raining too much, then we'll go up to the parade. But if it's pouring...” We tended to trail off, here. Not go? Hmmm.
Before going to bed late last night, Robert and I checked weather.com for the scenario. It showed a 60 percent chance of rain for the current hour, then increasing through the night to a 100 percent chance for the hours between 6 a.m. and noon.
A good gullywasher may not seem like much cause for concern to most people in the world, but I've lived in Pasadena long enough to understand that it can feel like Armegeddon here. After a good four months of very little weather, just a whiff of a breeze here and a spitting of rain overnight there, a real downpour is downright alarming.
I awakened at 6 a.m., to find 100 percent rain, unable to sleep as I channelled the collective disappointment of this entire town.
Here at 7 a.m. though, it seems like the rain is slowing a bit. Will the show go on? My five-year-old son just got up, climbed onto my lap and asked, "Will da sun come out for da Rose Parade?"
Indeed, will the sun miraculously show for three hours this morning? Will the show go on? I guess it's time to dig out the umbrellas!
* * *
Five hours later...
Well, we dug out the umbrellas, and like good Pasadenans, we headed bravely toward the throng. Every year now for four years, we have joined the Honowitz family at their legendary 10 yards of sidewalk, which they go to great pains to reserve every year since the dawn of time.
I felt like some kind of dazed homing pigeon. It's New Year's...must go to the parade...keep going north...
So we slogged forth, wearing rain boots, coats, etc. My boots, really nice "waterproof" ones that lace all the way up to my knees, kept me warm until we got a quarter mile away from the designated spot. Then they reached saturation point, apparently, and my feet were soon completely soaked.
My kids were soaked, too. When we reached our friends, they showered us with happy greetings, "You guys are idiots, too! Can you believe it? What are we doing here!"
We socialize a bit, then tried to settle the kids on top of garbage bags, since the chairs were soppping wet. This didn't work. Though none of the rest of us wanted to acknowledge that the Emperor was wearing no clothes, the kids gave me a look like,
"Mom, MOM. The Emperor is completely buck-naked. Get us out of here, the pneumonia is setting in. NOW!"
This is a picture of us, bailing.
The parade was just coming our way as we walked against it, back home. Our little viewing spot is at the very end of the five-and-a-half-mile parade route, and even on a good day, parade participants are weary. Today....
The band members were soaked to the bone, every last little bit of their lovely new uniforms. The floats were broken down, tattered. Mickey Mouse was long gone...
So we saw a bit of the parade as we headed home. We threw off our clothes, took warm baths, then settled down in front of the T.V. with hot chocolate and kettle corn to watch the parade. Like everyone else in the country!
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