Impact of Rose Parade Float Fire, Chaotic Ending Still Being Felt

Chaotic Rose Parade ending confuses spectators and participants

Published : Wednesday, January 2, 2019 | 1:25 AM

At top, the Chinese American Heritage Foundation’s “Harmony Through Union” float is obscured by smoke from a small fire as it stops near the intersection of Orange Grove Blvd. and Green Street; at bottom, a large tow truck begins its attempt to remove the disabled float, as following parade entries can be seen backing up behind the blockage. Photographs by Bill Glazier courtesy of the SouthPasadenan.com

The fire which disabled the Chinese American Heritage Foundation’s “Harmony Through Union” Rose Parade float Tuesday is still under investigation by the Pasadena Fire Department. The fallout from the parade’s chaotic ending caused by the float’s blaze and breakdown may continue for a while, however.

The incident left tens of thousands of parade-goers along the length of the parade route bewildered as it caused delays and the premature appearance of the closing act as the parade stretched over thirty minutes past its television timeslot.

TV stations cut away before a band from Sweden and two award-winning floats had their chances to pass the cameras.

Social media lit up at the confusion.

“So odd to see so many leave before it was really over,” wrote Kevin Car. “We stayed until the last float came down Colorado Blvd. Around noon. It crossed Hill Avenue. We sat in the bleachers watching the parade fall apart. Yes, the last float passed us at noon just before Hill.”

Kali Gray commented, “We were at Sierra Madre and Colorado, heard the cop sirens and saw everyone leaving after the small ‘football/parade’ float, and thought it was over!!! We figured they had towed the float completely off and didn’t know there were more floats and the band. I can’t believe none of the white suits standing where we were didn’t tell us to wait/that the parade wasn’t over. I feel awful we didn’t stay to support the band/floats.”

But likely no one was as upset as past President of the South Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association and its former Construction Chairman Michael McFatridge.

McFatridge fumed on Facebook, “I am disheartened that the hard work of the many volunteers who spent countless hours designing, planning, fundraising, building and decorating, all culminating in the thrill of driving your entry to the parade line was all for naught.”

Breakdowns do occur, he acknowledged. He wrote that he once drove a float which broke down. But it was hooked up to a tow truck and moved out of the way within three minutes.

“Not getting (The Chinese American Heritage) float moving quickly is the fault of the builder, the float aides, corner workers and the organizers as a whole, he said.

“Because of this incompetence, millions of people were not able to see the remaining entries,” McFatridge wrote. “I am proud of my hometown float. I am proud they won the Mayor’s Trophy.”

The Tournament of Roses should be held accountable, McFatridge said.

“What will the Pasadena Tournament of Roses do to make this right? The only option that makes sense is for the Tournament of Roses to fully reimburse the cost [of] building and decorating the floats that were not able to complete the parade. Make no mistake, when the cameras are turned off, and parade goers leave, the parade is OVER. I hope you find a way to do the right thing.”

In response to questions about the incident, a Tournament spokesperson issued a statement which said that “public safety is a top priority for the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association. The temporary delay of the 2019 Rose Parade was promptly addressed by our operations and public safety partners. Thank you for your patience as we gather more information.”