Rose Parade Kicks Off Amid Tight Security

Published January 01, 2004

| Associated Press

The Rose Parade (search) drew cheers Thursday from hundreds of thousands of spectators, many of whom had put up with overnight temperatures in the 30s to grab choice spots for the New Year's Day spectacle.

A crowd favorite in the 115th annual Tournament of Roses (search) spectacle was the "Springtime Symphony" float, which won the Grand Marshal's trophy. The float, representing the first springtime thaw in the Grand Canyon (search), had eight waterfalls and giant animated woodpeckers, owls and other creatures.

Twelve-year-iold Sydney g parade before, so it's kind of exciting," she said. "I love calamari and my nickname is squid."

Police estimated the crowd at about 800,000 -- about the same as last year.

In keeping with the national terror alert, more than 1,000 federal and local law enforcement officers fanned out among the spectators. Bomb-sniffing dogs, video cameras and helicopter surveillance also kept watch.

Security also was tightened for the Rose Bowl football game between the University of Michigan and the University of Southern California. Flights over the stadium were restricted to police and military aircraft, and stadium employees and media were required to wear photo identification.

The theme of this year's parade was "Music, Music, Music," and the grand marshal was conductor John Williams, who scored the "Star Wars" movies and many other popular films. He led 23 marching bands, 49 floats and 25 equestrian groups along the 5-mile route.

The floats included a 75-foot-long dragon and the tallest float in parade history, the 100-foot-high "Twilight Zone Tower of Terror," which advertised a Disney Resorts thrill ride.

Interior Secretary Gale Norton rode horseback in the parade as part of a salute to volunteers who work in national parks, while singer Sheila E. and TV's former "Bachelorette" Trista Rehn (search) and husband Ryan Sutter (search) were among celebrities riding on floats.

The parade also included a float honoring comedian Bob Hope, who died in July, and one promoting organ transplants, ridden by donors and their organ recipients.

Parade watchers were stacked five deep along streets littered with confetti from the overnight party, with many families huddled around heat lamps and small stoves.

"We're freezing like icicles, but we are happy," said Beatrice Angel, 50, of the Ocotlan in Mexico's Jalisco state. Her family arrived at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday after driving several days to see the Aguiluchos marching band of Puebla, Mexico.

Police made 37 arrests -- most alcohol-related misdemeanors -- by the parade's start, said police Lt. Alex Uribe. No major incidents were reported.

No specific terrorist threats had been made against the parade or the football game that followed it, police and tournament officials said.

But some were cautious because the events are seen by millions of people around the world.

"I think this would be a big target because all the people are here and because all the TV stations are here," said Donna Blohm, 47, of Clovis. "It crossed my mind about the terrorists, but we all decided we're going to live our lives to the fullest."

Before the parade, more than 100 recreational vehicles along the route were searched and their occupants were urged to report suspicious activity.

RV owner Sandy Starr approved.

"You've got all these people on the front lines. It's an extra set of eyes," the Lake Elsinore resident said.

URL

http://www.foxnews.com/story/2004/01/01/rose-parade-kicks-off-amid-tight-security