There's no real way to explain why we watch parades, in real life or on TV. Still, it seems to be fun, especially on a holiday. Now comes the Tournament of Roses parade; here's the story I sent to papers:
By MIKE HUGHES
This is pure Americana, up-close and old-style:
At times, people sit at curbs and cheer things that go by. A
couple times a year, they watch on TV.
Now comes the 125th Tournament of Roses parade.
It offers “the kind of stuff that you used to see in Middle America or
small-town America,” said Al Roker, who will do the NBC commentary.
Actually, there are still plenty of small-town parades, but
not like this. The rose parade has:
21 marching bands. They range from this year’s
Rose Bowl schools, Stanford and Michigan State, to high schools getting their
first national attention. Schools “hold these bake sales in high school and car
washes and have never been to California before,” Roker said.
44 floats, including a few with music acts –
Natalie Cole, Daryl Hall, KC & the Sunshine Band, and the new “Voice”
winner. Even before that show’s finale, Hoda Kotb – who will do the NBC
commentary with Roker – correctly said that her favorite would win: “Tessanne
(Chin), singing on that float, is going to be awesome.
16 equestrian units. “You’ve got horses,” Roker said. “You’ve got
horse-drawn carriages …. Native Americans … doing their dances. Ropers doing
roping tricks – all down five miles.”
And flowers everywhere. That’s what differentiates
this from the parade (Macy’s Thanksgiving) that Roper grew up with in New York.
Everything “visible to the eye has to be covered with some
sort of organic plant material,” Roper said.
Volunteers do it “petal by petal, gladiola by gladiola …. They are
That floral touch is also one reason his network has
NBC – with its tradition of dominating the Thanksgiving and
New Year parades -- used to have this to itself, when it also carried the Rose
Bowl game. Then others jumped in.
HGTV was attracted by the flowers; it began covering the
parade commercial-free, using it to launch a day of specials …. RFD was
attracted by the horses; its first float featured Roy Rogers’ stuffed Trigger
…. ABC joined when it grabbed Rose Bowl rights; it continues, now that the game
is on sister channel ESPN.
Others – Hallmark and Spanish-language Univision – will also
be there. Bouncing between channels, viewers can watch masses of mobile flowers,
horses and tuba players. It’s pure Americana.
Tournament of Roses parade, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
ET, NBC, ABC, HGTV, Hallmark, RFD and (in Spanish) Univision.
Hallmark and Univision have previews at 10;
Hallmark reruns the parade until 4 p.m. ET.