There are resolutions that are hard to keep (substitute fiber flakes for your morning croissant, get up before the kids to squeeze in a run) and there are some that are a pleasure. This is one of the latter. You’ve always meant to go to the Rose Parade—so make this is the year to take your early bird family to Pasadena. And we’ve got the low down on what to see, what to avoid, and what you won’t want to miss.

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Fun Fact: This year marks the 126th occurrence of the Rose Parade. The theme is “Inspiring Stories,” and the Grand Marshal of the Tournament of Roses festivities is Louis Zamperini, an Olympian and a decorated World War II veteran.  He is the inspiration of the new movie Unbroken, directed by Angelina Jolie, and he is such in inspiration that even though he passed away earlier this year, the parade is honoring him as the Grand Marshall and will dedicate the parade to his memory.

When: January 1, 2015 at 8 a.m. However, there are also several pre-parade activities that are not to be missed. (Keep reading for the scoop on float, band and horsie fun before the parade…)

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Tickets and Parking: Purchasing tickets is the best way to go with kids in tow. While people are allowed to reserve seats on the sidewalk starting at noon the day before the parade, you can’t camp out in the cold with little ones, and those who have slept on the sidewalk to reserve their spot along the route have reported it gets pretty wild the night before the big event. Grandstand seating is available from Sharp Seating Company and tickets cost $45- $90 depending on which part of the parade route you wish to sit. The $90 tickets will buy you a prime seat at Orange Grove, which offers the best vantage points. Rose Parade Parking costs $30 and is also available for purchase online. Note: While parking is steep, it’s worth it. There will be several street closures and loads of traffic to deal with, so knowing you have a spot secured along the parade route is a relief. And if you need to run to the car for anything during the parade, the car will be close.

Not ready to purchase tickets, but don’t want to camp out?  One way to avoid those two options is to skip the grandstand area, and head right for the end of the parade route (it ends by Victory Park, on Sierra Madre Blvd. – you can see the detailed route here).  Then you’re also close to the post-parade float viewing area, for a closer look.

 

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Been there, done that: According to moms we surveyed who have attended the Rose Parade with young children, they pointed out one thing to really take into consideration – the only bathrooms available are (not so nice) porta potties. Consider taking a travel potty chair for convenience. (Or watching it on TV this year, if you’re mid-potty training. There’s always next year.)

Definitely don’t forget plenty of snacks and water (though not so much water that they’ll need frequent potty breaks!).  The parade is 2 1/2 hours long, and you know that’s enough time for kids to go through approximately 3 sets of snacks.

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Baby, it gets cold outside, because taking into account parking time, you’re here pretty early.  So be sure to bring sweaters, coats and blankets. And even though it might be chilly, also bring a brimmed hat just in case the sun makes an appearance.

Pre -Parade Activities
So this isn’t the year for the parade?  Or you want to get them thoroughly in the mood by peeking behind the scenes?  There are plenty of cool events leading up to the Rose Parade, which kids really enjoy. In fact, for some families, this might be all the Rose Parade fun you’ll need.

See the Floats – Take tots to get an up close and personal look at the floats which will be featured in the Rose Parade, as they get their finishing touches and decorations in their final stages of preparation. Watch in wonder and awe as flowers, fruit, seeds, bark and grasses are expertly applied to the floats. There are three spots to check out the floats as they get built, and at one of the locations, you can see the floats after they’re finished with their parading. Cost: $10, 5 and unders are free. (Learn more about locations here.)

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Bandfest – Mini music lovers delight in Bandfest, which features the prizewinning bands of the 2015 Rose Parade as they perform their famous field shows. They will perform three shows over two days, giving fans plenty of opportunity to catch their talents. Cost: $15, 5 and unders are free. (Learn more.)

Equestfest – Little horse whispers can’t miss this show where they can meet the equestrians you’ll see in the parade, and view awe-inspiring drills and dances, trick riding and roping performed by gorgeous horses and cool riders. Bonus: you can bring kids to the stables to meet the riders. Cost: $15, 5 and under free. (Learn more.)

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Online: The Rose Parade

Does your family have any tips on tackling the Rose Parade with your family?

– Beth Shea

All photos courtesy of the Tournament of Roses facebook page