NEW YORK – With a show of military might and a sprinkle of pixie dust, the 116th Rose Parade (search) rolled past hundreds of thousands of revelers who welcomed the new year with a huge curbside celebration.
The New Year's Day extravaganza began with a roaring flyover by an Air Force B-2 stealth bomber that brought many of the sleepy spectators to their feet.
"That was awesome," said David Kobrin, 44, of Hollywood.
Next came the Disneyland (search) float, a 45-foot-tall replica of Sleeping Beauty Castle that commemorates the upcoming 50th anniversary of the theme park. It was covered with white, yellow and lavender mums, plus "an ample touch of genuine Disney pixie dust," according to the parade program.
"It was very fun and beautiful and everything," said Tyler Bratton, a 10-year-old who snapped photos of his first Rose Parade.
The parade featured 50 flower-covered floats reflecting its "Celebrate Family" theme, along with 25 marching bands and 26 equestrian units. Disney icon Mickey Mouse was grand marshal.
The start of the parade had a decidedly military feel as a Marine Corps honor guard and marching band brought the crowd to its feet. A float sponsored by the city of Alhambra followed, depicting a floral eagle and two American flags.
Among the most spectacular floats was a 50-foot robot firing jets of carbon dioxide gas, the first entry from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the California Institute of Technology. It won the award for best use of imagination and innovation to advance the art of float design.
A 207-foot train spouting fireworks sponsored by American Honda was the longest float in parade history, It won the award for exceptional showmanship and dramatic impact for a float more than 55 feet long.
The parade's East Coast counterpart, the 104th Mummers Parade (search), pranced up Philadelphia's Broad Street with comic salutes to the Armed Forces and the defending NFC East champion Philadelphia Eagles.
The men of one comic brigade dressed as portly Eagles cheerleaders for a rendition of "Fly Eagles Fly," and others pranced as Michael Jackson in Grim Reaper garb, a bald Elvis Presley and singers commemorating 40 years of the Beatles.
The comic brigades are followed by 18 traditional string bands — each with more than 60 banjo strumming, saxophone and accordion- playing performers — and dozens of parasol-pumping fancy divisions that prance and pirouette in sequins and feathers.
Many of the Rose Parade revelers had staked out front-row seats on Friday and spent the night huddled around curbside barbecues or wrapped in blankets.
Therease Logan, who brought a tarp, ice chest and small TV along with her two sons and their friends, said she has watched the procession from the sidewalk for 10 years.
"It's boring on TV," she said.
Temperatures fell into the low 40s during the night — "The propane heater is a wonderful thing," Logan said. — but the day was bright with sunshine.
During the overnight New Year's party, at least 23 people were arrested for investigation of public drunkenness and other charges, police said. No major injuries were reported.