PASADENA (CBSLA) — Despite souring COVID-19 rates in Los Angeles County, the Rose Parade is back this year after it was cancelled in 2021.
Thousands of spectators hoping to secure prime viewing for the 133rd Rose Parade began claiming spots along the route Friday. Although infections are surging again in the county this winter, Saturday's parade and accompanying Rose Bowl Game are moving ahead as scheduled.
After a challenging couple of years caused by the pandemic – the Blake family carried on with a Southern California tradition: camping on Colorado Boulevard for the Rose Parade.
"This will be our 8th year. I don't think there's ever been so empty spaces. Usually, it's jam packed," said Mallory Blake.
From the low-riders to the floats that were slowly moved into position. The parade is back after it was cancelled last year and LA County is seeing an alarming surge of new infections.
"Masks are not required outside but we are highly recommending it, because you need that extra layer of protection," said Lisa Derderian, a Pasadena Spokesperson.
And proof of vaccination or a recent negative test is required at the stands that seat 10-thousand or more, as well as the Rose Bowl Game.
"I like to be able to watch the parade and say hey I saw that behind the scenes... before it was already out here," said Mckenna Blake.
Andrea Canfield says she and her family wanted give their kids a break from being cooped up.
"We wanted to find a place that there wasn't anybody around," said Canfield. "So hopefully nobody – it's supposed to be six feet from the campsites – so they abide by the rules."
It's as nice as sidewalk camping can get - chairs, a dining table, even beds. Denis Valenzuela has watched the Rose Parade from the sidewalk on Colorado Boulevard more than a dozen times - but this year, she hesitated due to Omicron.
"We teeter totted a lot about it, but we figured we would stay masked, and we've been isolating ourselves as a family," said Valenzuela.
She hopes people will spread out and believes that it's doable this year.
"If you look out, there is hardly anyone out here," said Valenzuela. "We have been here since 7:00 a.m. and usually there's more people here."
Adriana Dakimowicz is attending her first rose parade this year. She too is conscious of keeping her family safe.
"Just keep to ourselves, not intermingle," said Dakimowicz.
Kim Kelly and her sister Kathleen have the same plan.
"Well, I am sitting here with my mask on so yes, it did weigh on us," said Kelly. "I am a nurse at UCLA so I am aware of the risks. But with being outside and being vaccinated and boosted, I felt like it was safe."
Despite the increased traffic, about half of the businesses on Colorado Boulevard are boarding up and have chosen to close early Friday and stay closed through New Year's Day.
"It's very difficult for them to maintain their staffing levels and the health precautions when people enter into the restaurants," said Chief John Perez of the Pasadena Police Department.
Along the parade route, masks are encouraged, but not required. Perez is still asking everyone to "make sure you wear yours masks. The masks in this weather will keep you warm."
A woman attending the parade says she hopes when the parade is televised, it shows the world that people still gather - as long as it's done safely.
"To show other people that we can still be active and still do the things we used to do, as long as we take precautions and if we all get vaccinated, we can do the things we used to do."
Those in the parade grandstands must show proof of vaccination or a negative test result. Masks will also be required during the event.
Starting at 12 p.m., people were able to claim sidewalk seats along the 5 1/2-mile route, but all people and property such as blankets and chairs must remain on the curb until 11 p.m.
After 11 p.m., spectators can move out to the blue "Honor Line" on the street.
People planning to camp out must follow these rules:
Small, professionally made barbecues that are elevated at least 1 foot off the ground are permitted along the route, but they must be at least 25 feet from buildings and other combustibles. A fire extinguisher also must be readily available.
People under age 18 will only be permitted on the parade route from 10 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Saturday if they are supervised by an adult.
Parade-goers should be prepared for cold weather and dress in layers.
Tents, sofas or boxes that can be used as stools or seats are prohibited along the route.
Bonfires along the route are prohibited.
No items can be sold along the route without a city permit.
Selling spaces along the parade route is prohibited.
Horns may not be sold, given away or purchased along the route.
No public areas can be roped off.
Ladders or scaffolding that can be used for elevated viewing of the parade are prohibited.
Open containers of alcohol are prohibited on public streets and sidewalks and other public areas.
Colorado Boulevard will close to traffic at 10 p.m. and remain closed until 2 p.m. Saturday. Closures will be effective from Orange Grove Boulevard to Sierra Madre Boulevard and northbound on Sierra Madre to Paloma Street.
The following freeway ramps will also be closed:
westbound 210 Freeway off-ramp at Sierra Madre and drop off lane;
eastbound 210 off-ramp at San Gabriel;
eastbound 134 Freeway off-ramp at Orange Grove;
southbound 710 Freeway off-ramp at Del Mar;
northbound 710 on-ramp at Del Mar;
northbound 710 on-ramp at California; and
southbound 710 left turn pocket.
The Tournament of Roses chose the theme"Dream. Believe. Achieve." this year.
The parade will kick off at 8 a.m. with a performance by Grammy-winning singer LeAnn Rimes. Emmy-winning actor LeVar Burton will serve as the grand marshal.
A total of 37 floats will be in the parade, along with 17 equestrian groups and 17 marching bands.
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