The 124th Rose Parade stepped off to a picture-perfect Southern California day on Jan. 1. Clean skies, beautiful views of the San Gabriel Mountains, a move-to-California day for the TV cameras. But what did the spectators think? Your Tournament of Roses Examiner collected some comments by readers about their experiences of the 2013 Rose Parade.
For this reporter, it was a beautiful parade, full of familiar favorites and a couple new twists. There were spectacular floral floats, the Marine Corps band perfectly executing the 109 degree corner at Colorado and Orange Grove, watching the sun come up as our train sped towards the Del Mar Station, grabbing a bite to eat at Aux Delices after the parade. For the second time in parade history, a wedding took place on a float, and there was surprise reunion between a soldier and his wife and son.
Not so good was the decision, most likely to accommodate the network television coverage time frame, to allow the closing Broadway-style act featuring Disney Channel actress Coco Jones to step ahead of the Sierra Madre float and the All-American Cowgirl Chicks stunt riders. Some viewers have expressed to this writer that they do not care for Broadway-style acts that promote the Tournament of Roses and its sponsors, especially when a float that won the coveted Isabella Colman Trophy is displaced. After all, the parade is about the floats.
One reader wrote, “I was wondering why they did that. Personally, I feel an award-winning float is more important than some tween Disney star, but that is just me.” He watched the parade on TV, and when asked how the amenities were, he responded, “Good. I had to watch the pre-parade online and the parade on Hallmark. I was warm and toasty. Got to have my Bob and Stephanie.”
For home viewers, KTLA offers the premier Rose Parade coverage with Bob Eubanks and Stephanie Edwards, and their telecast did not cut off the end of the parade. Their feed is also broadcast on the Hallmark Channel. (If you missed it, it can be viewed on the KTLA Tournament of Roses website.)
Lori VanArsdale, president of the Ramona Pageant, wrote, “On behalf of the Ramona Pageant I would like to thank you for keeping us up on everything about everything for the Rose Parade. It was such a thrill participating this year and had a great time following this Facebook page. We will certainly stay on it now that we have ‘Rose Parade Fever.’”
A not-so-rosy experience
For one reader, the experience was not so positive. She forwarded a letter to Tournament of Roses Examiner detailing complaints, which she said she sent to Sharp Seating Company, the Tournament of Roses and the City of Pasadena. We contacted the Tournament regarding the restroom facilities and Sharp Seating Company, the vendor for the lion’s share of Rose Parade grandstands, regarding the seating. The Tournament did not respond to the viewer or to us, but Sindee Riboli of Sharp did reply to us. Her responses are interspersed with the reader’s complaints.
The reader and her husband had difficulty finding restroom facilities when they arrived at the parade after an hour-and-a-half drive from San Clemente.
“Upon arriving the number one thing on my mind was finding a bathroom at 5:30 a.m.,” she wrote. “This ended up being an impossibility. No portable facilities to be found at all anywhere near the huge parking lot. We walked up and down Colorado Blvd. only to find that the few portable facilities along the route were padlocked.
“We were not alone in this futile search…. Many people walking the streets were asking the same thing as us and many were elderly people or people with young children. We were told that they don't unlock the portables until parade time. Why would you tell people to arrive as early as 3 a.m. and not have any restrooms?” A sheriff’s deputy finally pointed out a porta-potty that had a broken lock which they could use.
After arriving at their grandstand seats on Orange Grove Blvd., the reader was upset to find that there were no beverage vendors, as she had not had fluids for some time. She said that in order to use the porta-potties near their seats, she had to go through a security checkpoint. (They had already cleared security on Colorado Blvd.) “The people next to me had small children. One of their girls had to go to the bathroom before the parade even started. They missed 20 minutes of the parade start because she had to go through security again and wait in a long line at the portables. This again is just absurd,” she wrote.
Riboli responded, “Yes, this experience appears to be absurd to me as well. Portable toilets are provided adjacent to every grandstand we build on the parade route; based on number of seats built in the grandstand…. we do try to create a great day at the parade which includes convenient porta-potties. We are very sorry for any inconvenience this caused and…I will take a hard look at the facilities we place on site and the fencing situation.” Riboli also said that porta-potties are generally placed inside the grandstand fencing, unless the property owner requests differently.
The reader also pointed out that the grandstand seats were too small to comfortably accommodate people, especially those with long legs or folks who are larger than average. She expressed that “every inch is money,” so the seats were small to sell more tickets.
“In no way would we ever compromise our customers’ comfort or safety to increase our revenue,” Riboli said, noting that they must follow the City of Pasadena’s code. “We want to accommodate everyone and if an individual has long legs or other concerns regarding comfort, we can only hope we are informed at the time of purchase. For instance, we could have accommodated the customer with long legs by giving him an aisle seat.”
The reader concluded, “I am not only writing this to complain about our awful experience but it is with great hope that if any good can come from this letter and make someone else's experience better in the future, I will have done my job. Even the sheriffs we talked to agreed with us on this matter. One female officer said that it was all she was hearing about all morning.”
Riboli said, “The parade is a positive experience and a great way to kick of the New Year, the first day of the year where hope is flying high. We are sorry that bad experiences happen, but we really attempt to make everyone’s experience a happy and memorable one.”
Were you there? Add your comments below.
The theme of the 124th Rose Parade and 99th Rose Bowl Game was “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” The 125th Rose Parade and 100th Rose Bowl Game takes place on Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014. The Tournament of Roses is a celebration that lasts several weeks in the fall and winter, with the high points being the Rose Parade presented by Honda and the Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO on New Year’s Day. Keep following your Tournament of Roses Examiner for the latest news and for upcoming announcements.
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