Flower-covered floats, marching bands and a heroic grand marshal kicked off one of the nation's biggest New Year's celebrations Friday as thousands lined up to watch the Tournament of Roses Parade.
Chesley Sullenberger - the pilot who landed a stricken jetliner on New York's Hudson River - led the 121st annual spectacle, themed "A Cut Above the Rest."
Onlookers gasped when Honda's three-masted sailing ship float boomed and shot sparklers and smoke rings out of its cannon, right at the bleachers.
A float celebrating Mexico's bicentennial featured Mexico City's landmark Angel of Independence and an intricate flower Aztec calendar, as well as dancers costumed in traditional regional dresses.
A swarm of children on rollerblades with butterfly wings also got a round of applause as they twirled in front of a float depicting the city of Shanghai.
The Kansai Honor Band from Japan rallied the crowd with "Thriller" dance moves and a color guard in kimonos with teased hair.
Thousands of people staked their claims to sidewalk space along Pasadena's Colorado Boulevard and other stretches of the route early Friday, bringing sleeping bags, lawn chairs and party favors. They spent the night under the light of a rare blue moon - the second full moon in a month.
The new year dawned chilly until pink sunlight reflected off the aluminum bleachers, bringing the temperature into the 60s by the time the parade got under way.
It was mostly peaceful along the route on New Year's Eve, except for some minor skirmishes.
Police spokeswoman Janet Pope-Givens said Friday morning 37 people had been arrested, mostly for disorderly conduct and public drunkenness.
Jessica Mota, 19, of Pasadena staked out prime parade-watching real estate for about 30 of her friends and relatives.
She said she's been coming to see the parade since she was 10 years old.
"We camped out since 7 a.m. yesterday. My little cousins were bouncing around all night, and now they're passed out," she said, pointing to some huddled bodies underneath a sleeping bag.
Among hundreds of volunteers who help put on the parade, students from Pasadena Community College and Marantha High School had possibly the dirtiest job.
Armed with shovels, overalls and rolling plastic trash cans, they started cleaning up after the parade's horses at 2 a.m. Friday.
Annie Sommers, a 16-year-old softball player, declared her white coveralls "hopelessly ugly," but accessorized with a plastic flower in her hair, rose earrings and a scarf.
Despite the dirty work, Sommers said she's happy to participate in a world-famous parade.
"I'll try out for Rose Queen next year," she said jokingly.
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