The 123rd annual Rose Bowl Parade forecasted a historical year of transition and change for 2012 with the theme titled “Just Imagine” — a valuable prescription given the state of our world now. This light hearted, feel-good all-American tradition to bring in the New Year focused on the roses, with floats that creatively augment the authentic beauty of nature showcasing how to decorate with the font of real natural materials. This might be considered more than a parable for us all— especially with what is up for us all regarding energy, sustainability and use of our natural resources. This year the float’s themes together told a potentially prophetic story for humanity up against time. Within this theme, was the ever prevalent aspect of time woven through the parade whether it was the subtle reference to the Doomsday clock or the Mayan prophecies for 2012 of the possibility of humanity being extinct. Click here to get the panoramic visuals from The LATimes or see the slide show from Channel 9, or the parade video from KTLA channel 5.
The American New Year’s Day tradition, as classic as apple pie, ice cream, and lemonade, did not happen “classically” on New Year’s Day. It was postponed a day— due to the “Never on a Sunday” rule, with respect for a day of rest and prayer being a good old fashion virtue. Lovely that such a celebrated event respects a day of rest resisting the “7/11’” franchise that now could be renamed 24/7. However the representatives of ‘We are the 99%” who trailed the parade from the Occupy Movement, did not get an official permit to be part of the parade itself, and the coveted traditional broadcast media with estimated 40 million viewers would not cover their action as an official part of the parade. Those of the Occupy Movement marching were still visible in association with this “normal” American tradition.
This “norming” vs. the “storming’ of traditional protest action helped to preserve freedom. Like the reality of the thorn, it is meant to prick, yes, but it is there by nature’s design to protect the plant’s natural beauty and is perhaps a new paradigm for our world.
Instead of a float, the Occupy Movement marched with a blowup80-foot long Constitution of the United States with the words, “We the People” and “We the Corporations,” signed by members from the Occupy Movement. A group named “The Billionaires” were singing and waving fake money given to the public.
The visibility of the Occupy Movement marching with official support to be able to “unofficially follow,” the parade’s end is a coup. Not just to those who witnessed it, but in the way it was extended through social media outlets on the web whose broad global reach can dwarf the traditional sources, and where the quality of the content isn’t compromised and constrained by the “news” deadlines and corporate sponsors timelines and the broadcast network’s ad buys.
But this wasn’t the only way history was made this year— the parade also introduced several new sponsors with floats to celebrate centennials. Time being up was celebrated by those who have stood the test over a hundred years of existence. The parade honored people more for their personal sacrifice then their fame or celebrity stardom, also a welcome change shifting from popular culture to people celebrated because they are truly respect.
It was also the first time in over 30 years that HIV/Aids was acknowledged in memory of those who died and advocates with a float in honor of the late Elizabeth Taylor and her foundation. This was an act demonstrating a huge transformation of inclusion vs. the disruptive protest for ignoring HIV/Aids in 1991.
Although the Rose Bowl is not The International Grand Prix or the World Cup, it still attracts an estimated 40 million American viewers and captures the attention of people of all ages.
The all-natural-ingredients stricture for the floats’ decorations were broken or appealed for amendment this year twice— to allow plastic— once with permission with a waiver for the glass that the extraterrestrials used to make their lemonade, and then again with recycled plastic that made up the plastic octopus for the Occupy protestors.
It is an interesting commentary of our times to allow and embrace plastic. To recycled plastic, and reuse the old, is a way of bio-mimicry of nature in that recycling is more than a sustainable theme, it is natural.
Floats such as Occupy Los Angeles’ people-powered Occupy Octopus, a 100 foot in diameter octopus (to symbolize corporate greed) with many arms— made completely from recycled plastic bags took part in the parade. The day was a success even though the broadcast media funded by corporations cut off the parade’s coverage after the last float. 100,000 spectators or more lined the streets and filled seats. The voices of the 99% were heard. The procession marched a few blocks off the end of the parade route to end at the Pasadena City Hall where many gathered to hear moving speeches from many representatives of different Occupy cities. Although some were disturbed by the lack of beauty and feel good marketing from the Occupiers, others found the inclusion of the protesters refreshed the parade with relevance addressing what many people are feeling at this time which brought in a more serious audience for the parade, which they say is otherwise mostly a feel-good marketing campaign for corporations, chambers of commerce, and civic groups.
The floats themsleves are almost like topic sentences in the paragraphs to describe humanity’s evolution;
“Idea Factory” — takes ideas and magically turns them into reality (won the theme trophy). Here is how it works: a series of clocks and gears drive a conveyor belt of ideas, and it converts them into the real thing! It presents new technology that might transform our future, like the electric vehicle extended batteries.
“Sweet Dreams”- with Kenny G
“Just Imagine”-Wells Fargo
“If Pigs Could Fly”
“Fighting Evil Machines”-PowerRangers-core values of teamwork, friendship and fitness
“Surf’s Up”-Malibu classic with dogs surfing!
“One More Day” The family of Christina-Taylor Green, the 9-year-old girl killed in the mass shooting that injured U.S. Rep Gabrielle Giffords last year, on the Donate Life float honoring organ donors. The Greens donated their daughter’s corneas. Clocks measuring time representatives of recipients of organ donors showed life is to precious not even waste one minute.
“Spirit of Prosperity and Harmony” the year of the Dragon–China Airlines celebrating the Chinese New Years
“The Garden of Imagination” shineshine daydream yellow rose—brothers’ astronaut, rose care expert 5 million miles later after a rose went to the space station
“You are the controller” X-box 360 Microsoft Kinect ; bringing sports like skiing, surfing and dancing to the interactive youth viewer that makes a once costly only accessible to the few, and experience many can virtually enjoy in their home—2011 most popular song that inspired flash mobs like the one I was in, Usher, DJ’s Got us falling in love again”
Best display of fantasy and Imagination– Plastic (special waiver) everything is supposed to covered with something live but got waiver-Lemonade-aliens space ship
“When Life Gives you Lemons,” where extraterrestrial entrepreneurs crash into a lemon tress in Pasadena. The float reminded me of this article– best display of fantasy and imagination,a nd the B-52 style of music brought it even more down to earth..
Cal Poly Universities-“To the Rescue” woman super heroes by buildings Catastrophe intervention by superheroes to the rescue; stretch guy, strong guy, fly girl– building collapse, and train wreck
Larger than Bible “He who believe in Jesus shall never die but have Eternal Life” John 3:36
The float “The Unimaginable,” another words engineering for the “Black Swan”—from guess who? Farmers Insurance, who is invested in keeping us–… afraid, I mean safe, and protected…It demonstrates how one small mishaps can balloon into a major disaster, we know about that in 2011 but Fukushima is better described as catastrophic, and San Onofre’s recent closure and the status of the nuclear plant is something the NRC is looking into now. Thank you, California Senator Barbara Boxer for the appeal and your letter to the NRC in an attempt for accountability.
The Grand Marshal’s Trophy for most creative concept and design again went to the Discover Card float, “The Dream Believers,” which broke down! “The Dream Believers” by Discover Card, had a little problem with their float and had to be towed during the parade by AAA. There ironic theme; if you dream it and believe you can achieve it, was broken.. Laughter was unstoppable, to see this floats message which encourages the American process of borrow before you have the means to pay by using a credit card is not dissimilar to the situation with our bank loans for mortgages, the foreclosures, etc. The float’s break down ended up mocking it originally intended message “Preserving Paradise”-Dole
“Look Back, Move Forward”-City of Torrence
California Clock Company- Sports wheels skateboards on and off the float with swing dancing 50’s juke box
“The World at Peace”
“Dinosaurs at LA’s Backyard”—City of LA La Brea Tar Pits, reminds us of the possibility at this time of humanity’s extinction
The US Marine Corps. Mounted Color Guard-an equestrian team that works out of Bartstow, Causing wild mustangs from the “adopt a horse program” trained by inmates of Carson Nevada prison in a 90 day program and then boot camp for horses..
Sign of the times when sponsors of floats are the Trader Joes, (won the craftsmanship award) Microsoft and Paramount Pictures for the first time celebrating 3 cententials100 years in Hollywood- Universities like Loyola Marymount for there 100; Learn, Lead, Serve-City of Torrance, Roy Rodgers 100-preserved Trigger and Bullet
Not missed was the advertisement for alcohol, but the famous Clydesdales of Annheiser Busch after almost 60 years of being a sponsor were a sign of the times…
Numerous charity’s works are celebrated; for homeless women, Shriner’s Children’s Hospital admits regardless of the patients ability to pay, what a concept! The Rotary International to eradicate polio– inch worm showed progress inching long. Liz Taylor’s stand for Aids Foundation, Kwanis, Girl Scouts, Lions Club and the City of Hope.
Through rose colored lenses— perhaps keeping our eyes focused on the beauty we can better embrace the thorns as an essential part of the rose. It is important to just imagine the possibilities and at the same time deal with the facts of reality. Fukushima is not over, neither is Chernobyl— the effects of radiation live on. Just last week we had a local encounter at the San Onofre nuclear power plant, which remains closed, due to the radiation leak, and faulty steam tubes. While we’ve begun to re-license nuclear power plants built to the tune of billions without the proper reflection on lessons learned from Fukushima. It is indeed a curious time. We still have to figure out how to dispose of nuclear waste safely if we will continue to use nuclear power. More countries are growing their uranium enrichment programs, so as long as we have nuclear power there will be an excuse to advance towards nuclear weapons. With countries fighting one another over resources, it becomes too easy to push a button that will dramatically alter humanity’s path on earth. Is this the only way we can ingrain in all people to reconsider our priorities? Both radiation, and love are only seen by their effects. Is this what it takes to transform the way our world uses resources and shift our priorities? Is this the only way to reinvent how we do live life globally— to awaken what we all know to be true?
Will the UN’s Earth Summit Rio+20 awaken the possibility of a global energy policy that is enforceable and will override divided grid-locked countries’ abilities to act— like the USA, with our divided congress? Will we be forced to consider sustainable solutions that are for all people? Like John Lennon said, “Imagine,” and the resolution– the parade suggests this year is to “Just Imagine” — a good idea. Ideas with human ingenuity from a spiritual font may be one of our greatest gifts, lets unwrap the “present”. The theme of the rose carries through to Valentine’s Day, and you can support World Team Now’s work and give to someone in your heart, with roses, click here! Please spread the love, it’s what is needed.