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129th Rose Parade rolls in Pasadena; see the list of float winners

Hundreds of thousands of people lined the street to watch 39 floats decked out with countless flowers, along with show horses, marching bands and celebrities. Millions more watched on TV. Adolfo Guzman-Lopez/KPCC

See the list of float winners »

With a nod of thanks to military veterans, marching bands and floral floats took to the streets under sunny California skies as the 129th Rose Parade drew hundreds of thousands of spectators on New Year's Day and millions more watched on TV.

The 129th annual parade got started Monday in Pasadena with an announcement by the grand marshal, actor Gary Sinise, and a military flyover.

Among the parade-goers lining the streets was South Pasadena resident Margarita Resendez, who told KPCC she has attended the Rose Parade for the past 17 years.

"This is a tradition for me," Resendez said. "I always come every year. It's the thrill, the blood rushing — it's exciting. It's beautiful, the flowers."
 
About 800,000 hours of manpower goes into producing the famous New Year's Day parade from start to finish.

One of the 39 floats was an award-winning entry from China Airlines featuring a scuba diver floating above fish and a coral reef. 

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame artists Earth Wind and Fire performed atop a red and white float recreating the Forum, the famous Los Angeles-area arena celebrating its 50th anniversary.

The Trader Joe's float, which had fold back to get under the 210 Freeway at the end of the route, won the Showmanship Award.

There were blue skies with just a few wisps of clouds and temperatures were expected to reach the 70s after a chilly night.

It has rained only once on the Rose Parade in the past six decades — that was in 2006 — and it has never been canceled because of weather.

The theme of the 2018 parade is "Making a Difference" and Sinise was chosen to lead the proceedings because of his devotion to veteran's issues.

Sinise, who played Vietnam vet Lt. Dan Taylor in 1994's "Forrest Gump," said when he was picked that he was happy to serve as grand marshal because of the vets he seeks to help.

"If shining a little spotlight on me on January first can shine a spotlight on them to help me make a difference in their lives, I am very, very grateful to do that," he said.

Veterans and family members of those killed in action appeared on some of the floats.

Spectators started lining the 3.5-mile route on Sunday, many of them camping on sidewalks and braving overnight temperatures in the low 40s.

Pasadena Police Chief Phillip Sanchez said there were no known threats to the parade, but fan safety would remain first priority and security would be tight. No major problems were reported. There were a handful of arrests, mostly for public intoxication, police said.

The 104th Rose Bowl was scheduled later in the day just a few blocks away from the parade. The bowl will feature a College Football Playoff semifinal between Oklahoma and Georgia.

Rose Parade float winners

The Tournament of Roses on Monday announced the following award-winning floats:

Award Description Participant Theme Builder
Sweepstakes Most beautiful entry: encompassing float design, floral presentation and entertainment Singpoli American BD Rising Above Paradiso
Americana Most outstanding depiction of national treasures and traditions Farmers Insurance Honoring Hometown Heroes Phoenix
Animation Most outstanding use of animation Underground Service Alert of Southern California (DigAlert) Making It Safe for All Fiesta
Bob Hope Humor Most whimsical and amusing float La Cañada Flintridge Tournament of Roses Association Panda-Monium Self-Built
Crown City Innovator Most outstanding use of imagination, innovation and technology The Grand Tour-An Amazon Prime Original Make Your Own Momentum Paradiso
Director Most outstanding artistic design and use of floral and non-floral materials Odd Fellows and Rebekahs Rose Float Sacrifice to Serve Phoenix
Extraordinaire Trophy Most extraordinary float The UPS Store, Inc. Books Bring Dreams to Life Paradiso
Fantasy Most outstanding display of fantasy and imagination Sierra Madre Rose Float Association Chivalry! Self-Built
Founder Most outstanding float built and decorated by volunteers from a community or organization Burbank Tournament of Roses Association Sand-Sational Helpers Self-Built
Golden State Most outstanding depiction of life in California City of Riverside 25th Annual Festival of Lights Fiesta
Grand Marshal Most outstanding creative concept and float design Dole Packaged Foods Sharing Nature's Bounty Fiesta
International Most outstanding float from outside the United States China Airlines Caring for Our Sea AES
Isabella Coleman Most outstanding presentation of color and color harmony through floral design City of Hope Transforming Lives with Hope Phoenix
Judges Most outstanding float design and dramatic impact American Armenian Rose Float Association, Inc. Armenian Roots Phoenix
Leishman Public Spirit Most outstanding floral presentation from a non-commercial participant United Sikh Mission Serving Kindness Phoenix
Mayor Most outstanding float from a participating city City of Torrance Protecting Nature...The Madrona Marsh Preserve Fiesta
Past President Most outstanding innovation in the use of floral and non-floral materials Cal Poly Universities Dreams Take Flight Self-Built
President Most outstanding use and presentation of flowers Western Asset Management Company Oceans of Possibility Phoenix
Princess Most outstanding floral presentation among entries 35 feet and under in length Rotary Rose Parade Float Committee, Inc. Planting the Seeds of Service Phoenix
Queen Most outstanding presentation of roses Downey Rose Float Association Working Together Self-Built
Showmanship Most outstanding display of showmanship and entertainment Trader Joe's Hats Off Phoenix
Theme Most outstanding presentation of the Rose Parade Theme Donate Life The Gift of Time Paradiso
Tournament Volunteer Most outstanding floral presentation of the Rose Parade Theme among floats 35 feet and under in length Shriners Hospitals for Children Caring for Kids Around the World Phoenix

 

This story has been updated.