Monday, January 2, 2012

Long Live the Queen/Strike Up the Band/Happy New Year

Saturday, December 31, 2011
Here are the highlights of this action-packed day: 

1988 Rose Queen Julie King, still perky and pretty after all these years, gave an anecdote-filled presentation on the life of a Rose Queen and her court.  In her day the queen and her court were issued 26 piece wardrobes and notebooks with spreadsheets listing all their appearances and which items from their wardrobe they were to wear for each event.  On parade day they hopped into the official limo at 2 a.m., with their hair freshly washed, wrapped in a towel.  They were then whisked off for hours of hair and make-up and sitting around waiting for the parade to start, wearing warm slippers beneath their flowing gowns, and only changing into their heels when  they descended back to earth at the end of the parade and had to make the rounds of post-parade VIP events.   

Her parade Grand Marshal was Gregory Peck, who was as gracious and thoughtful as we would imagine him to be in the role of Atticus Finch.  He and his wife sent a limosine bearing a huge tower of roses to her house to congratulate her on her high school graduation.

We watched a DVD about what it takes for a high school band to make it to the Rose Bowl Parade, then attended Bandfest, a spectacular presentation by six Marching Bands that will be in this year’s Rose Parade.  Their musical ability was outstanding, but we were blown away by the precision, the intricacy and the originality of their marching routines, including a whole lot of dancing, flag spinning, baton twirling, and gun tossing talents of exhibited by their girls’ squads.  

But, most impressive of all were the numbers of kids in each of the bands who were high performers academically as well as instrumentally—each band proudly cited statistics accomplishments like 90% of band members on the honor roll, a majority of Band Seniors in National Honor Society, many members with perfect 4.0 or higher grade point averages, and so on.

The temperature hit the 80s, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, the entertainment was phenomenal, and we even had a little gelato snack break.  What a wonderful way to spend our last day of 2011.

Our final special event of this very busy last day of 2011 was, of course, a New Year’s Eve Party.  All 300 of Rose Parade Road Scholars gathered in our hotel’s Grand Ballroom to celebrate the occasion in classic style—with a fancy dinner consumed while wearing silly New Year’s hats and watching the festivities on Times Square, which were projected on a huge screen in the front of the ballroom.  As the ball dropped in New York, we all tooted our horns, tossed our streamers, exchanged champagne toasts and kissed our loved ones.  By celebrating the New Year on Eastern Standard Time while actually being in the Pacific Time Zone, we managed to get to bed at a reasonable hour without feeling like we missed anything--yet another thing to love about this place!

P.S. When we visited New York City this summer, we had the opportunity to write messages on small squares of tissue paper that we were promised would be released as confetti when the ball dropped, sending our wishes out to welcome the year (and land on some unsuspecting person below with an anonymous cosmic message).  So, we were very excited to see all the confetti flying around Times Square at midnight, knowing that our wishes were being sent out into the universe.

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