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Pasadena's Rose Parade, a  New Year's Tradition for 113 Years - 2002-12-31

In Pasadena, California, volunteers are putting the finishing touches on floats for the Rose Parade, which gets underway New Year's morning, at 11 a.m. EST. The event, seen on television in many countries, has 55 flower covered displays.

The parade floats are large and fanciful, and feature animated figures of children, birds and animals. Each square centimeter is covered with plant material - flowers, stems, leaves, stalks and seeds.

Hundreds of volunteers have worked around the clock to paste on decorations.

"It's like walking into a fantasy land," said one of the volunteers, Larry Palmer. "You have some of the biggest toys you can imagine, and they are all colorful, and they even smell nice."

The theme of this year's parade is Children's Dreams, Wishes and Imagination. Three popular hosts of children's television will serve as grand marshals: Bill Cosby, Art Linkletter and Fred Rogers.

Designer Raul Rodriguez supervised decoration of a float that features Gumby, an animated clay character. Many of the decorators are young fans.

"All the kids here are working on it," he explained. "They're putting everything from Chinese lentil to straw flower, brown millet, seaweed. And then when the hours come forward to the parade, all the precious flowers go on."

San Francisco resident Marsha Ryan has watched the parade before, but this year she came early to help with decorations.

"You see so differently when you're up close than you see it when you're in the parade, how they actually map things out, how they coordinate everything. It's really quite phenomenal," she said.

The Rose Parade, which is officially known as the Tournament of Roses, has been a New Year's tradition for 113 years. The event attracts up to one million spectators to the streets of Pasadena, and up to 400 million around the world on television.

The parade is followed by the Rose Bowl game, a college football match, which this year pits the Washington State University Cougars against the University of Oklahoma Sooners.