An Iconic American Tradition


Happy New Year everyone!

Did you watch the Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year’s morning?

Watching the Rose Parade on New Year’s Day was tradition in our house for as long as I can remember back.  It’s just what you did.  What we all still do.

Like going to church on Christmas Eve.  Like having Abeilskiver (it’s a Danish pancake thing…a family tradition from my Grandpa’s side) and sausage for Christmas Eve dinner.  Like opening presents Christmas morning.  Like going sledding down the driveway Christmas Eve night.  Or like our Thanksgiving morning bareback horse rides through the woods and fields on the ranch. To saddle was crazy.  Too cold.  Having the horses warmth was much appreciated!

Traditions…we all have them and I feel so darn blessed, after seventeen years away, to be able to once again live the New Year’s Day one out live and in person!



It was a real cold morning for Southern California, just like you probably heard… but not as cold as it is here in Shipshewana this morning.  It was a beautiful 0 degrees out there today!

Todd, who was still in Burbank/Pasadena this morning, said it was going to be 80-something degrees there today.  I told him I was honestly thankful it wasn’t that warm when we were there just a few short days ago.

Can you imagine?!  That’d be more than and 80 degree swing from there to here to adjust to!  Ugh.  No.  I’m glad it was in the high fifties/low sixties only!  I’m not sure I could’ve handled that king of readjustment!   Brrrrrr…!!



So, the Rose Parade.  I Instagramed through the course of it and heck yah, as evidenced from this cell phone shot, I was rooting for Oregon!  Those that know me and know my “Sports Rule” know I root for the furthest team west in any competition…I have no real loyalties other than “WEST”.  I’m kind of a self-dubbed region snob.  I admit it.

However, this excludes the Detroit Red Wings.  I’m an actual fan of theirs because I like the pride, work ethic and civic involvement that the team displays.  So anyway, if you don’t follow college football or didn’t watch the game, they won and will be in the championship game.  Go Ducks!



I didn’t even ask this guy if he wanted his picture taken beside a flower festooned float.  Nope.  But he did consent, with a little bit of encouragement, to pose with one of the Tournament of Roses tow trucks.

Obviously, a whole fleet of them were standing by to assist the floats in a breakdown situation.  If the whole parade had been about big trucks with flashing lights he would’ve been in heaven.  As it was, he was level headed and down to earth…but not his mama!



Rose Parade is a photographers dream.  Well, when the sun comes up and starts casting light on everything.  Then it’s a dream!



It took a while for it to get light, as we had left the barn at five o’clock that morning.  We hung out (in 29 degrees!) and walked the floats before they started harnessing and hitching the horses to the wagon.



It’s a process that few get to watch and I’ve seen a bazillion times, and not just these guys.  My family hitched horses too and in various combinations.  For work on the ranch or for the draft horse shows.  I don’t think we ever did an eight…six many times, but eight?  Maybe once at Denver Stock Show?  Maybe it was in Idaho.  My memory fails me because if we did it was in partnership with another Belgian hitch and it was only that one time.

Anyway, the point I want to make is this hooking to the wagon, or hitching, hasn’t changed a bit in over a hundred years.  The harness the horses wear may be slightly different but the process of hooking/hitching them to the wagon is the same.  When this occurred to me I thought, man that’s pretty awesome.  I guess I needed to be well into my forties for this epiphany to strike.



People didn’t hang around very long to watch.  They normally do and oftentimes well over five deep all around the team just to get a peek or a picture.  On this morning however, I’m sure they wanted to just keep moving to stay warm….and get to their seats along the parade route.  I bet!



I made the mistake of standing too long in one spot waiting for the light to hit the horses mane decorations.  I didn’t have enough layers on and I started to involuntary shake and my feet started to go numb!  I never would’ve thought bringing my Sorel snow boots would’ve come in handy.

Yep, coldest Rose Parade on record now.  Last I remember seeing it was 29 degrees on my cell phone.  But!  It still hasn’t rained on the parade in all the years they’ve been putting it on.  And that’s 126 years!  Yep, cold over rain…any day, especially if the sun comes out!



No sooner did I start to get worried I was getting way too cold when the horses were off to get positioned into their assigned spot in line.

If I heard it once I heard it at least ten times through the course of that morning…

”It’s not a parade unless the Budweiser Clydesdales show up”.

I happen to agree with that statement!



This is a shot taken from an action sports camera they had on board the wagon.  Shown here is them waiting in line.  Lead driver Doug, on the right, operating the camera from a smart phone and the assistant driver Chris, on the left, holding the camera to get this particular picture.  The camera was then reattached to the seat rail to left of the assistant driver.  It was pointed out over the hitch (or they call it “team”) and video was taken as they went down the parade route.  Chris could turn it off and on from where he sat or could use his smart phone to activate it.  Here’s one instance where it would be impossible to Text and Drive.  Ha.



After the horses left us we all went a few miles over to the end point…the pick up area or the technical term used was:  “Disbanding Area”.  Here we warmed up with hot beverages, ate doughnuts and watched the parade on a big screen TV.  All the equestrian units gathered in this spot.

What I found great was that anytime a horse unit came across the screen, the whole room would cheer.  Did they cheer for floats?  Nope.  Did they cheer for marching bands?  Nope.  No offense, but they cut loose for the horses.  We were a band of horse people after all.

It was kinda funny and great all at the same time.  I loved that.  It was probably one of my most favorite memories about New Year’s Day.



“Here comes the King, here comes the big number one…” You all know this song don’t you?!  This is how we saw the horses in the parade, on the television screen, just like most of you!



This where we parked, blocking no driveways.  This picture was not about the semi’s or how they parked.  I’ll give you a hint:  mountains and that blue stuff.  (I didn’t edit this picture or the next one, straight out of my cell phone).

Aren’t our Western skies amazing?  I vow to never take them for granted again!



I know some of you have heard of In–N–Out Burger, most of you probably have not as they are only in a few western states in the U.S.  I’m not sure about the Marching Band units or the float folks but I know first hand they had a mobile unit set up and it provided free lunches for all the equine people in the disbanding area.  Yummmmm-O!  Sure miss that burger chain.



Wells Fargo!



Did you see them?  Their floral arrangement was spectacular wasn’t it?!



And that included all three of their coaches and outriders!

The outriders had a floral spray just under the cantle on their saddles.  The horses pulling the coach had flowers on their harness, between the back-pad and belly-band.

A real nice turnout!



But did you see and hear what they did at the grand finale of the parade?

They gave a home to a Wounded Warrior, live.  Awesome.  You did good Wells-Fargo.




One of my favorite parts of this unique parade:  When the sun warms the flowers on any of the units…man does it smell good!!  I can almost still smell them.

Three-hundred and sixty days to go till we get to smell’em again!



After the parade we went back to the barn where the horses were rinsed off, all while being filmed for a spot on a equine cable channel.  We joked on Instagram how not cool it would be to be filmed while getting a shower!  The horses take it in stride of course, because they’re horses.  But if we, okay me, had a toned body (and athletic rear end) like they do it probably wouldn’t be so bad – Ha Ha, maybe.



These two.  These two had the day off on our first day of 2015.

For those of you unaware, all three Budweiser Clydesdale teams in the U.S. travel with ten head and two horses always have the day off.  Case in point with Taco and Austin shown here.  They’re both four-year-olds and drew the day off card so weren’t in the parade last Thursday.

However, just like any Bud horse with the day off, they got turned out of their stalls for some exercise.  Thing is, they didn’t rip and tear around like a pair youngsters would normally do.  They just kinda sauntered around all lazy like.  Trotted a bit here or there.  Rubbed on each other and that was that.  They stood at the gate and wanted back to the barn and their cozy stalls.  “Boooring.  Where’s the run?  Where’s the buck?   The rearing, the chasing each other?”,  I said.  Todd shrugged his shoulders and replied, “They don’t want to.”

Do you know what I think happened?

Mind you, it’s just a crazy guess….

I think, while we were at the parade, these two young American icons snuck off to the Mexican food restaurant up the street to participate in an American tradition the best way they could…

By watching the Rose Parade on the television there!  But, in the course of watching, ate four buckets of tortilla chips, two gallons of salsa, three #5’s, four #7’s and 3 gallons each of Arnold Palmer ice tea, then had to bust a move to beat us back to the barn and were so exhausted and sleepy they couldn’t even pretend to have enough energy to rip an tear around.

Hey, weirder things have happened!


13 thoughts on “An Iconic American Tradition

  1. I loved reading all about the prep for the parade – and seeing your gorgeous photos! I can’t imagine what it would be like to experience that in person – – your pictures and commentary are the closest I’ll come!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Knowing you were there and waiting for each of your photos with text to pop up on Instagram, we didn’t watch nothin’ in that parade but the Clydes!!!!!! Thank you so much for all those clicks and this is a fabulous post! I can’t believe you didn’t have your Sorel’s… I pretty much figured they went anywhere you go no matter what.. :)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post! I loved seeing all the day of shots on Instagram too. I still can’t get over the fact that some of the route is right on normal everyday neighborhood streets! So glad I was able to experience is live with you once upon a time! Still one of the coolest trips of my life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks idahogem1.
      I thought about you many times this past New Year’s Day! I’m glad you were there too and so glad your dad and M. suggested you go along. I had more fun because you were a part of it. Oh! Wait till you see the pictures I dug up from New Years day 1998! ;) Next post maybe or just FB, can’t decide yet.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I did watch the parade this year, even Ed watched it! Loved being able to know you were there and routing for your TEAM. Loved your story, Dee! I felt like I was right there with you. Wish I had been especially for the In-N-Out! :)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey you.
      Loved that Ed even watched!
      Remember how we’d get to watch till the end then we’d get “booted” outside to play? ;)
      I totally, you know this, wish you’d been there for it all, especially In-N-Out!
      p.s. Forgot to tell you…Todd already knew about the “4×4” and “Animal Style Fries”. Hmmmm…Wonder why did he not clue me in these last 20+ years? :}


  5. Oh Dee I watched the parade and waited and waited to see the Clydes but never did get to see them…….Did see the Wells Fargo groups and they were fabulously beautiful but I was SOOOO disappointed that ABC showed almost everything else BUT the Bud hitch. DANG. Anyway, I know it was a glorious day although quite cold and I would have LOVED to see them “up close and personal” and give you a warm hug too! Thanks for sharing the photos with those of us who watched, hoped to see them, but didn’t get to. Maybe next year????

    Hugs, Pam (and of course Sam)

    Liked by 1 person

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