Hundreds of thousands of spectators bundled up in jackets and blankets lined the streets Monday for the 118th Rose Parade that featured a salute to “Star Wars.”
The festivities began with a flyover by an Air Force B-2 stealth bomber, bringing cheers from the fans, and actress-singer Kristin Chenoweth and a dancing troupe rang in the new year with a tribute to this year’s parade theme, “Our Good Nature.”
Among the few first floats, a 45-foot-tall Mother Nature was surrounded by animals and scores of live doves were released as it rolled down Colorado Boulevard. It was soon followed by “Jewels of Nature,” a colorful display of butterflies adorned with tulips, daffodils and lilies.
It was the first Rose Parade for Ralph and Annette Cyr of Pittsford, N.Y., who usually have two televisions ready to go at their home to watch the parade.
“I’ve been wanting to come all these years, and this year our daughter bought us the tickets and said ’You’re going,”’ said Annette Cyr, 70.
Some fans came to see Grand Marshal George Lucas and a three-piece entry called “Star Wars Spectacular,” including 200 Star Wars storm troopers and two floats depicting the movies’ moon of Endor and the garden planet Naboo.
“We’ve lived here all our lives and never been to the parade. but this year we just gotta see Mr. Lucas,” said 51-year-old Robin Romero of Hacienda Heights, Calif., who frequents “Star Wars” conventions across the country with her husband, Dennis. “This is the 10th time I’ll see him (Lucas) in person. It’s going to be so cool to see the storm troopers march.”
The parade precedes the Rose Bowl, which this year featured Michigan and Southern California.
The parade featured 45 floats, 22 marching bands and 23 equestrian units. Actor James Garner, Miss America Jennifer Berry and basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar also made appearances.
It was also the first parade appearance by a group of llamas.
Many parade-goers had spent the night along the route to stake out prime seats as temperatures dipped into the 40s. Afternoon highs were expected to reach the 60s.
Hundreds of volunteers scrambled late Sunday to put the finishing touches on the floats, which must be completely covered by organic material.
“It’s about 100 hours of work for about 20 seconds on television,” said Diane Garlock, a 59, of Northridge, as she placed roses on a float. “But it’s worth it ... the floats just transform before your eyes.”
Police said the crowd was generally peaceful, though 18 people were arrested on suspicion of various crimes, including public drunkenness. Last year, police said 31 people were arrested between New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.