Decorating the South Pasadena Rose Parade float

In keeping with the “Melody of Life” theme for the 2019 Tournament of Roses Parade the city of South Pasadena is entering a float called “Three Little Birds”. Volunteers were busy decorating it in a huge tent on Friday and will continue over the weekend.


If you are interested in seeing the progress of the South Pasadena float as it is decorated you can park on Fair Oaks just north of the 110 freeway exit. There is a large sign on Fair Oaks showing the location.

A follow-up after the Rose Parade. The South Pasadena float was behind the big one that broke down and sadly, the “Three Little Birds” float did not show up on the TV broadcasts of the parade.

decorating the South Pasadena Rose Parade float
This float is being decorated from the top down. Two women add red roses to the guitar body while a man indicates color blocks on the lower part of the float. In the initial drawing for the float the body of the guitar is shown as brown but these roses are definitely very red.
Thousands of red roses are already attached to the “drum” that will be on the float. The musical notes are covered with seeds. By the time the float is ready to roll out of the tent and uphill to the parade route in Pasadena, every visible inch of the float will be covered with natural materials.
It looks as if they are using brown-dyed pampas grass to decorate this red bird. Every inch of it will be covered with natural materials before it goes on the float and joins the parade.
This year there seem to be more tropical flowers being used on the South Pasadena Rose Parade float than in previous years.
tropical flowers for South Pasadena float 2019
Buckets of flowers in vibrant tropical colors were lined up outside the tent waiting for volunteers to add them to the float.
But it isn’t all flowers. These cauliflowers were being prepared to go onto the float.
Two people preparing the yellow cauliflower while other people unload the truck filled with other additions for the South Pasadena float.
Women attaching kitty litter to a panel that will be the sign on the front of the Three Little Birds float.
Once a year this huge tent rises in a park along Fair Oaks Avenue in South Pasadena. Almost all the other floats are built and decorated way out in the barns in Irwindale and I am not sure they encourage visitors out there. On the other hand it is easy to park on Fair Oaks, just north of the 110 freeway exit and stroll over to see this float. There used to be a couple of float barns actually in Pasadena, but they have been closed.

Ripe dates on palm trees on Christmas Day

No snow on the palm trees or freezing, snowy weather in Pasadena or Los Angeles on Christmas Day. In fact the date palms planted along the center of Arroyo Parkway in Pasadena are bearing fruit. No doubt the birds and other critters love this!

While there is no snow in the L.A. area, in the nearby mountains all the ski and snowboarding resorts are open for people who want winter cold.
A close up of the dates ripening on the palm trees in Pasadena.
Not far from the palms, the leaves of the Liquid Amber tree turn yellow then red in November and December in So California. The Liquid Amber tree is also known as the American Sweet gum tree. In the front are South African aloes which bloom in mid-winter, bringing color to otherwise dull, all green gardens.  Lots of sunshine, of course.

Skating, sledding and a Joni Mitchell song at Pershing Square in Los Angeles

Ice skates for the whole family are for rent.

Every winter there is ice skating in downtown Los Angeles and this year the activities for children were expanded. The temporary ice rink is set up in Pershing Square by a group that calls itself the Holiday Ice Rink, but I am not certain who brought in the bouncy-houses, miniature merry-go-round and kid-size train..

entry to Pershing Square downtown Los Angles
Christmas festivities at Pershing Square in downtown Los Angeles.

This expanding event probably does not make the Pershing Square Restoration Society very happy. They want to return the Square to something similar to its park-like original configuration over 100 years ago.  Mostly it would be grass and trees and statues if they had their way.  I am not sure where the urban ice skating rink would go in their plans, not to mention the children’s playground and the dog park lined with tall pink concrete cylinders and bougainvillea.

The Pershing Square dog park is ideal for the loft and apartment dwellers downtown.  Helps keep the streets clean, too.

The current configuration of Pershing Square–and there have been 5 redesigns since the beginning–was done in 1993 by the famous Mexican Modernist architect Ricardo Legorreta,  landscape architect Laurie Olin, and artist Barbara McCarren.  And as the years have rolled by the playgrounds were added in recognition of the growing number of families living downtown.  I used to favor restoration, but no longer. Grand Park, just a few blocks away, has plenty of grass and trees and some statues, too.

Okay…enough of this rant.  On to what I saw.

These beginning skaters may have never seen real snow, but they are learning to ice skate and, who knows, may become L.A. Kings hockey fans.
What a great day for a family outing.  Lots of sunshine and penguin helpers for the kids.
There was a long line of parents and children waiting to ride this Merry-Go-Round.
Hot dogs, tacos, kettle corn and a Micky Mouse poster.  Street vendors have recently been legalized in Los Angeles after decades of selling food on street corners “illegally”.  I don’t think street vendors were arrested very often.  They provide a useful function in the city.
A staff member waits until one sledder is down the slope before she sends the next customer up to the top.
If you don’t like to ice skate there is always sledding.  This Dad and daughter are ready to go.
Lemon tree and sled slope Pershing Square 2018
I love the real yellow lemons in the tree behind the artificial sledding slope!  I noticed that throughout the Square the lemons were only high up on the trees.  No doubt the lower level ones had been picked already by nearby residents. The temperature was about 72 degrees F.
This new building has risen over the parking lot that Joni Mitchell made famous in her song “Big Yellow Taxi”. Before this high rise began to reach skyward, the space was for decades a parking lot which had replaced the old building that was home to the Los Angeles Philharmonic.  They tore down the beautiful philharmonic building and “paved paradise and put up a parking lot” sometime back in the 1970s.  The Pershing Square Restoration Society should take note that “Change Happens”.

No guns. No knives. No cigarettes. A sign of the times at Kaiser?

  • The new sign that greets patients at the Kaiser Permanente Optical office reads: “No Weapons Allowed”.  Smoking, of course, has been banned in most California locations for years, but this is the first I’ve seen a sign about weapons.
"No Weapons Allowed" sign
The new sign on the door of KP Vision Essentials Optometry center where I went to pick up new glasses. I guess Kaiser wants to keep its patients healthy but this sign was unnerving.

Mission Inn Festival of Lights is wild for animatrontic elves and real parrots

“Too much is just about right” at the amazing, annual Festival of Lights at the Mission Inn in Riverside, about an hour or so east of L.A.

Mission Inn entrance with nutcrackers Festival of Lights
Welcome to the Mission Inn! You can take a family photo or just sit for a while on one of the benches.

The hotel itself is beautiful, but the addition of dozens of animated characters around the building and an enormous fireworks display really pushes the Festival of Lights over the top.

Nutcrackers in Antique Mall across from Mission Inn
Across the street from the Mission Inn is an antique Mall filled with Christmas ornaments like these nutcrackers. Why pay retail?

Not wanting to drive out there after dark to see the fireworks, I went the day after the Festival began and discovered that the city of Riverside is a very charming place, filled with Victorian cottages, parks, interesting architecture, a museum, and even a statue of Mahatma Gandi in the downtown shopping plaza.

Don’t want to drive?  You can reach Riverside on a Metro Link train (not the local neighborhood Metro Rail) from Union Station in downtown Los Angeles. It takes a couple of hours on the train.

Animatronic singers on Mission Inn 2018
Animatronic carolers on the front of the historic Mission Inn in Riverside.

Mistletoe at Mission Inn entrance 2018 Festival of Lights
A huge branch of mistletoe is right inside the archway at the entry. There was a lot of kissing going on when I was there. This archway was modeled after the front of the historic San Gabriel Mission near downtown Los Angeles.



Animatronic singers on balconies Mission Inn
Animatronic characters are positioned on the balconies  all around the Mission Inn rooms. I wonder what the reaction is of guests when they look out the window to see “someone” on their balcony.

Christmas display Mission Inn Riverside 2018
Of course I want  cannons with my elves, a robot, and a snowman! I wonder what this area looks like when Christmas is over and the cannons remain.

Animatronic elf Mission Inn Festival of Lights
Elves were tucked into spaces along the walkway.

Elves along walkway Festival of Lights Riverside CA
Everywhere there is a little space at the Mission Inn there are elves. I suspect these may be animated, too, but they were just cute elves when I visited.

Parrots in a cage at Mission Inn Riverside CA
Two live parrots in a cage just outside the doors to the Mission Inn. There is also parrot artwork here and there throughout the building. Someone likes parrots!





Elegant entry hallway Mission Inn 2018
Marble and crystal show the way to the lobby from the Mission Inn entrance .  

Wall of Republican Presidents Mission Inn Riverside CA
One wall along the entry is dedicated to portraits of U.S. Presidents. A selected group of U.S. Presidents. George W Bush made the wall, but Obama and Trump did not. Richard Nixon is on a totally separate wall–all by himself.  I checked online and perhaps the portraits are of the Presidents who visited the Inn.

Restaurant in atrium Mission Inn
Looking out to the central courtyard from the hotel lobby. Decorations were everywhere!

Holiday decorations on a dry fountain Mission Inn
This fountain has been turned off and decorated for Christmas. More animatronic figures were stationed on the upper walkways around this central courtyard. 

Mission Inn Riverside CA
The Spanish Mission Revival architecture of the Mission Inn is somewhat obscured by all the trees in front of the hotel.  Duane and Kelly Roberts rescued this historic building from demolition in 1992 and restored it.  “Thank you” to them!





Queen Sassy Classy as Lady Godiva and other strange stuff at the Doo Dah Parade

What a surprise!  The photos of the 2018 Doo Dah Parade I thought had vanished turned up last night, so here are more pix of this crazy fun event in Pasadena. To see more pre-parade photos go here.

Doo Dah parade Queen Sassy Classy Jennipha Nielsen
Rather than traveling in a float, this year Queen Sassy Classy, Jennipha Neilsen, rode the parade route wearing her Lady Godiva outfit  while on a white horse with a peacock blanket 

As you will see, it gets weirder and weirder as the parade goes on.

Santa Claus at Doo Dah parade 2018
Of course there was a Santa Claus! After all this is a family event. I have wondered what the children watching this parade will remember when they become adults.  I guess the whole world is stranger these days than when I was a child. Santa continues century after century.

Fuzzy critters at the Doo Dah parade 2018
These fuzzy critters are  almost creepier than clowns IMO.

Devils giving beads Doo Dah 2018
These guys have been in previous parades. One of them was handing out beads, a la Mardi Gras.


Howdy Krishna Doo Dah 201
I wonder if this man was one of those Hare Krishna people who chanted on street corners back in the 1970s. He looks to be about the right age to be a former Hare Krishna-ite. No tambourine though.

Belly dancer 2018 Doo Dah parade
The man sitting next to me gave this belly dancer some of the fake money that is handed out during the parade He tucked it into her waistband.

Derby Dolls Doo Dah parade 2018
Oh those Roller Derby girls!

Mystery float Doo Dah parade 2018
Colorful and fun looking? Yes! But what does an open book on the front of this float, puppets, a man in a red sparkly cape, plus Mexican paper art banners have to do with each other. No doubt they have an explanation, but I didn’t even ask.

Getting wierder Doo Dah 2018
One very bizarre creature plus a medical team plus others strange characters marched in the 2018 Doo Dah Parade.  Notice the lady in the Marie Antoinette (?) outfit who follows and is followed in turn by the roller derby team, the Derby Dolls.

Boatmobile Doo Dah 2018 #LA City Pix
Instead of a batmobile (which you can see here on the Warner Bros. movie lot) there was a boatmobile in the 2018 Doo Dah parade. Look closely and you can see the tortilla this little girl threw at the float.  It is that whitish ellipse above the driver’s head.  Throwing tortillas at floats and marchers–and them throwing the tortillas back–is an old tradition at Doo Dah.

Coffin car and trailer Doo Dah parade
A coffin car pulling a coffin trailer. Not sure what this was all about.

Radioactive Chickenheads a real band 2018
This is a real band. I know because a friend of mine plays with them from time to time.  For all I know he might have been on this truck/float.

Trump Pence must go Doo Dah parade 2018
Political groups were scattered among the more fun parade marchers. Among them were the Sierra Club, the League of Women Voters, the Save Tibet people and others. Seriousness among the silliness.

Creative chaos at the Doo Dah Parade in Pasadena

Launched 41 years ago as a send-up of the oh-so-serious Tournament of Roses parade, the #PasadenaDooDah parade has been wacky and chaotic from the start. The Briefcase Marching Band is probably the most famous entrant in those early Doo Dah days.

Warm up act Doo Dah parade
Before the parade started this guy walked along the 2 block long parade route and did a warm-up of the crowd.

What struck me most as I watched in 2018 was the individual creativity — unlike the cosplay stuff that goes on at ComicCon and other similar events that Millennials adore, but are not very creative.  Cosplay is just copying.

Okay.  Enough of this rant.  Now on to the Doo Dah parade for 2018. Oh, something happened when I was downloading my photos and I lost about 2/3rds of my photos including a couple of the Doo Dah Queen who, in the spirit of Lady Godiva, rode a white horse in the parade.  Her skin-color body suit was decorated with strategically placed purple embellishments, so no shocking nudity. Other wore less revealing costumes.

Nutcracker and Sugar Plum fairies Doo Dah
Jr. Nutcrackers and “Sugar Plum Fairies”. Funny!

Leading the parade was this bagpipe group, here rehearsing “Camptown Races”, the music they played at the beginning of the parade. Why Camptown Racer? Because the name “Doo Dah” is in the lyrics!

Behind the scenes Doo Dah parade
Why wear clothes when you can wear plastic tubes in neon colors? The lady on the right apparently belonged to one of the marching bands. The Christmas ornament on her hat is a nice touch as is the Santa on top of the hat to the left.

Burning Man Doo Dah 2018
While I ranted about cosplay, I have to tip my hat to Burning Man, a very creative festival. Can’t make it the desert festival? Well come to the Doo Dah parade!

Couple in yellow Doo Dah 2018
Loved these yellow outfits of this couple marching in the parade. You don’t need a sponsor to be in the parade.  But it’s a good idea to have a costume of some kind.

Giant figure Doo Dah parade 2018
I haven’t a clue as to what this giant figure represented. Pretty impressive however.

Dressed for fun Doo Dah parade 2018
All dressed up and waiting for the parade to begin.

Here, in no particular order, are a lot of other photos of the 2018 parade.

Cry Baby Buick Doo Dah Parade 2018
Some might call this politically incorrect. Others call it an art car. It’s called “Cry Baby Buick”.

barbie doll art car doo dah parade
A close-up of the Cry Baby Buick art car. Damaged Barbies are the preferred decorative element.

Mobile Music Fest band 1 Doo Dah
Let’s hear it for rock ‘n’ roll bands and a lead singer with bleached blonde hair! During the parade 3 different bands performed on the stage as the “float” rolled round and round the 2 block long parade route.  So if you can’t make it to Coachella, here is an alternative!

Mobile music fest band 2 Doo Dah
One of the bands performing at the Mobile Music Festival. I think this “float” was sponsored by a local bar. Instead of bleached blonde hair one guy  in this band wore a red wig.

Band followers Doo Dah parade
If you have rock music bands, then you have to have groupies and followers. These carry signs of the times.

Doo Dah Mix up
As the parade draws to an end after two or three times around the 2 block long parade route, marchers drift from one group to another. All order, such as it is, disappears. Those white circle things on the street are tortillas. The custom is to throw tortillas at the parade participants and some participants throw them back at the crowd. No one seemed to throw marshmallows this year.  They are more difficult to clean up than tortillas.