When I was a kid, my Mom absolutely loved watching the New Year’s Day Tournament of Roses parade on television. We watched it every year. I wasn’t as excited about it as Mom was. I got a bit more excited about it when we finally got a color TV. After all, as a kid, it isn’t particularly interesting to watch a bunch of floats go by on television decorated with flowers of various shades of gray. I became much more excited about the Rose Bowl parade when Rebekah and I moved to Pasadena, California where I pursued my masters a Fuller Theological Seminary. We lived on campus, and our apartment happened to be just two blocks away from the parade route.
It was either our first or second year in Pasadena, either 1997 or 1998, when we walked down to watch the parade. Now there is something you need to understand about the Rose Bowl parade. Something like a million people line up along the 6-mile parade route to watch the parade. And thousands, if not tens of thousands, camp out on the streets and sidewalks on New Year’s Eve so as to get a good spot. We arrived about an hour early, and the sidewalks were already crowded. We were on a sidewalk down one of the crossing streets, and so we were about a 100 to 150 feet away from one of the intersections of the parade. As the time neared for the first floats to pass our intersection, more and more people joined us on the sidewalk and in the gutters of the street. The police would come down the street every few minutes, and tell the people to move back and clear the streets. Some moved, but most didn’t. Instead of moving back, they would simply cram into the crowd on the sidewalk.