Donate Life America's "Lifting Each Other Up" float, winner of the Sweepstakes trophy, makes its way down Colorado Boulevard during the 134th annual Tournament of Roses Parade held in Pasadena, Calif., on Monday. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI. | License Photo
Jan. 2 (UPI) -- The 134th Tournament of Roses Parade, featuring dozens of flower-covered floats, wound its way under sunny skies in Pasadena on Monday after historic rains throughout California capped 2022.
Crowds turned out to brave southern California's chilly morning, with temperatures in the 40s, to see the 39 floats and 21 marching bands file down Colorado Boulevard.
The theme for the 2023 Rose Parade was "Turning the Corner," with former Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who survived a mass shooting, as the parade's grand marshal.
"The idea of 'turning the corner' also resonates from a national perspective," Giffords said in a statement. "Our country has faced multiple years of a deadly pandemic and political rancor. Yet medical advances and bipartisan compromise have helped us to take steps towards a better future."
This year's Rose Parade was hosted by Mario Lopez, an actor and television personality known for Saved by the Bell and Extra, and Ana Gasteyer, an actress and comedian known for Saturday Night Live.
This year's floats included the 2023 Sweepstakes Trophy winner "Lifting Each Other Up!" by Donate Life America, a nonprofit organization to increase the number of organ donations. The winning float featured an Asian street dragon adorned with 40,000 flowers with floral portraits honoring the organization's donors, as eighteen organ recipients waved to spectators.
AIDS Healthcare Foundation's "There's No Place Like Home" float won the Grand Marshal Award -- featuring Wizard of Oz characters Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion -- for most outstanding creative concept and float design.
Nascar's "Always Forward" float, featuring race cars at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, won the Americana Award for most outstanding depiction of national treasures and traditions.
One float stalled during the parade. The Louisiana Office of Tourism's float, featuring a New Orleans Brass Band, broke down for the second year in a row. While last year's float had to be towed, this year's float got back to moving at the standard 5-mile-per-hour rate following a three-minute delay.
This year's Rose Parade also paid tribute to a Riverside County Sheriff's Department deputy, who was killed in the line of duty last week. Deputy Isaiah Cordero, a 32-year-old motorcycle deputy, was shot and killed during a traffic stop on Dec. 29. A riderless horse led the agency's Mounted Enforcement Detail to honor the deputy.
The Rose Parade, which started in 1890 to celebrate Pasadena's mild winter weather on New Year's Day, was held on Jan. 2 this year because of the parade's "never on a Sunday" tradition.
The parade was canceled in 2021 for the first time since World War II because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year, spectators had to wear masks and show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test.
This is the first year since the pandemic with no mandates for the Rose Parade, although health officials recommended wearing masks in crowded areas as cases of COVID-19, flu and Respiratory Syncytial Virus strain hospitals this winter.
Last month, volunteers prepared the floats with thousands of flowers and other plant material in Irwindale, Calif. The Rose Parade takes place every year ahead of the Rose Bowl college football game in Pasadena.
Volunteers use thousands of flowers and other plant material to prepare floats for the Rose Parade in Irwindale, Calif., on December 29, 2022. The Rose Parade will be televised live from Pasadena, Calif., on January 2, 2023. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo