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Before the Parade

Dec. 31, 2003

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On the last day of the year we drove up from Long Beach to my old neighborhood in Pasadena, to Brookside Park, down in the arroyo with the Rose Bowl. It was there where, one day long ago, I ran my first sack race and tried to sprint across the lawn, carrying an egg that wouldn't sit in a spoon.

But today the park was packed with RVs owned by football and parade fans in town for the Tournament of Roses. We arrived just in time to see some of the floats pulling out and preparing for their overnight drive up to the start of the route on Orange Grove. One decorator snuck an orange rose off the Roto-Rooter float for Ellie, and a reporter from KABC showed Em how to sign out from a remote: "Reporting live from Pasadena, I'm Emily Sims. Back to you."

Even better was the chance to watch the Clydesdales get dressed. Anheuser-Busch's mascots that are about as big as small elephants. We stood close enough for them to kick us (they didn't) and watched their handlers -- who were as well dressed and groomed as the beasts themselves -- dress them up in brass and leather tack.