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: