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.

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.

The Batmobile and fake cities at the Warner Bros Studio in Burbank

If you take the studio tour at the Warner Bros. lot you will find yourself riding on a open-sided shuttle and passing through sun-filled streets of Chicago, New York, and Big-City-and-Small-Town Anywhere, U.S.A. All fictional, of course.

Sound Stages on Warner Bros. Studio Lot
The Warner Bros. Studio is an actual working movie and TV production facility. Tours are secondary to the primary purpose of creating entertainment.

Thanks to binge-watching on the internet, the demand for TV series and movies is seemingly endless and on the Warner Bros. Studio Tour you will also see street after street of huge sound stages–all busier than they have been in years. The production of entertainment is a thriving big business in Los Angeles these days.

Here is some of what you see on the Studio Tour:

Batmobile on Warner Bros. Studio backlot
One version of the Batmobile is parked on the Warner Bros. lot.

Arkham asylum Warner Studio LA City Pix
The gates to the Arkham Asylum stand next to the Batmobile on display at the Warner Bros. Studio lot.

Fake cemetary on Warner Bros. Studio lot
If you are a fan of “Shameless” here is the exterior of Patsy’s Pies, ostensibly in Chicago but actually at the Warner Bros. Studio in Burbank.

Chicago L on Warner Bros. Lot LA City Pix
Making a movie set in Chicago? Here is the  permanent Warner Bros. set that incorporates an artificial version of the famed Chicago “L” train tracks.  The buildings behind can be repainted to represent other locations for other movies.

Fake cemetary on Warner Bros. Studio lot
Need a cemetery in your TV show? Well, here is a totally fake one on the Warner Bros. lot just in time for Halloween.

Warner Bros. Water Tower
The famous Warner Bros. water tower, often used as a logo on cartoon productions.  The other buildings, left and right, are part of the facades used for exterior shots in movies. 

Setting up stage for holiday
Workmen were setting up a stage for what I think was a Halloween event..  The Little Shop of Horrors in across the street was also being outfitted for the holiday.


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Warner Studios: Part One, the Movie Museum

I was over at Warner Studios having lunch with two friends when the one who works there suggested we go to the Warner movie museum.  We did and it was fun.

6 actresses Warner Studio museumBut, you can’t just wander onto the Warner lot in Burbank to visit the museum.  You have to take the Studio Tour (unless you are a guest of a Studio  employee which we were.)  Entrance to the museum is the next to the last stop on the Warner Studio Tour that costs $65.

So to save you money here are some highlights of the movie museum. In my next post I will show you the Warner Studio lot with outdoor scenes/sets  you will recognize from your favorite TV shows and movies.

Okay.  Here are highlights from the Museum:

Tim Burton's The Corpse Bridge mock up
A mock-up from Tim Burton’s film the “Corpse Bride”.

Sweeney Todd set and costume WArner Studios museum
The gruesome set and costume for Sweeney Todd.


James Dean costume Rebel Without a Cause
Teenage memories. How I loved James Dean.

Costumes worn by movie stars Warner Studio
From the left, costumes worn by Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Lauren Bacall and Olivia de Haviland.


Costumes Warner Studio museum
Costumes I think were from ‘My Fair Lady’.

Green screen at Warner Studios
These people were acting in front of a Green Screen. I would guess there was an extra fee to do this. There were a couple of other places as you walk through the museum where you could have your photo taken on sets from famous TV shows. I  think one set was for Friends, but since I don’t watch sitcoms so I didn’t recognize it.

Warner Studios store LA City Pix
You have to go through the store to exit the museum and return to the tour shuttle. There were some large items but most of the things for sale in the store were either refrigerator magnets or key chains.

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The last Delta rocket launch from Vandenberg AFB

I watched the last U. S. government Delta rocket launch from Vandenberg AFB on the central California coast this morning. It is carrying a satellite that will survey the ice in Antarctica.

The last Delta rocket launch over Pacific
Delta rocket launch Sept 15 2018

From now on SpaceX and other private companies will be used to send satellites into space. I took this photo from my balcony and the distance  to that red dot which is the rocket is over 100 miles. It quickly disappeared behind the palm tree on the left.

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Tom Cruise’s home-away-from-home at Scientology Celebrity Center

Scientology’s most famous member, Tom Cruise, no longer owns a home in Los Angeles, but when he is in town he can always stay at the Scientology Celebrity Center and its Manor Hotel on Franklin St. in Hollywood..

Built by the widow of an early Hollywood movie mogul, the Celebrity Center was originally called the Chateau Elysee and was a combination of apartments and a hotel for the international elite.

The sign may read “Manor Hotel” but not just anyone can make a reservation to stay in this Scientology Celebrity Center.

In an early photo of the building it stands grand and glorious at the edge of the Hollywood Hills.  Today it is surrounded by tall fences, except at the entrance to the hotel where a guy in a casual clothes reading a newspaper turned out to be a guard.

There is another gate with a sign that reads “Welcome” and offers free classes, but you have to ring the bell for admission to what looks like a very lovely garden terrace. And I have no doubt that if you ring the bell you will be greeted almost instantly by someone who is actually a Scientology recruiter.

Several years ago I wrote about another Scientology building in Hollywood and my encounter with the guard at that location.

Here is what I saw on a walk around the Celebrity Center.

bars around Scientology Celebrity Center LA City Pix
Peeking through the fence I spied what looked somewhat like either an enclosed swimming pool or an elegant greenhouse.

garden terrace at Scientology Celebrity Center LA City Pix
A terrace outside the Celebrity Center. Ring a bell at a nearby gate and you might be admitted. Maybe.

Fortress Scientology LA City Pix
From the street behind the Celebrity Center the complex looks like a fortress. I wanted to visit the garden on the top of this structure, but the guard dissuaded me.


Free classes at Scientology Center Los Angeles LA City Pix
Free classes about breaking into the movie industry are a major way to lure young people into Scientology. For whatever it is worth, Scientology is banned in both the U.K. and France.    I would love to welcome you as a subscriber to LA City Pix. Please use the form in the upper right side of this page to receive updates when new posts appear.