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The Hoi Polloi Camp Out on Route 66 January 9, 2012

Posted by homolog88 in Travel Dispatches.


When I was growing up near the end of the Rose Parade route, my family regularly went down the afternoon before to place benches and chairs along the curb. Spectators can reserve spots along the route beginning at noon of the previous day, and they do so all along Colorado Blvd., the old Route 66, and Sierra Madre Blvd. I myself only gave one year to spending the night along the banks of the Sierra Madre. It was cold, and I’ve never liked staying up all night. But we always found other kids who thought it was a great adventure and were happy to guard our spots for a modest fee.

I’d never walked along the route in downtown Pasadena the night before the parade, but I did so this year, and it was quite the spectacle. Folks young and old, families, gatherings of friends, social clubs … all were sitting in chairs, chaises longes, grouped around tables, or on cushions, nesting in sleeping bags, and, most amazingly, cooking over open fires!

hobo candles

The sidewalks teemed with urban campers. No tents were allowed, but everything else seemed to be. And I saw people playing Monopoly, dominoes, listening to music, arguing with proselytizing evangelicals, checking out the souvenirs being peddled by itinerant vendors. And all the while traffic rolled down Colorado Ave.; many of the shops and all of the restaurants in Old Town were open for business. What was immediately apparent was how family friendly the scene was. No drunkenness or rowdiness on display; the teenagers seemed well-mannered; and kids were in evidence everywhere. The area was well policed, which ensured that unsavory elements would be quickly eliminated, and the general atmosphere was one of a low-keyed party.

In spite of the benign ambiance, the corporate store franchises – Juicy Couture, the Gap, Barnes and Noble—had their windows boarded up.

Corporate pigs board their windows

Crate and Barrel not only had boards on its plate glass windows but was open for business on New Year’s Day. There has never been any violence associated with the Rose Parade, but corporate pigs are a paranoid lot, probably because they measure the world by their own diseased yardstick.



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