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Roses Parade held near Los Angeles to mark New Year
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The annual Tournament of Roses Parade was held on Thursday under sunny skies in downtown Pasadena near Los Angeles, as the biggest new year celebration in the US West drew massive crowds of spectators as well as countless television viewers.

The 120th annual event to mark the New Year began in the morning with dozens of marching bands and flowery floats rolling onto the main street of the city in a festive atmosphere almost not eclipsed by the nation's worsening economic recession.

Tens of thousands of spectators, many of them having arrived a day earlier and stayed up for a whole night outdoors, lined on the two sides of Colorado Boulevard to watch the three-hour procession, while many people still stuck in traffic jams trying to find parking places even after the parade kicked off.

A float called "Entertaining Expedition" and featuring towering, feathery trees won the Sweepstakes Trophy, considered the event's top award, embodying this year's theme "Hats Off to Entertainment. "

Despite the crowds and cheers, there were still hints of economic hardship. It was reported that some ticket-holders sold their seats on advertising website Craigslist before the parade, saying they need the money.

Other sellers said the ticket resale market was soft this year. Organizers normally charge 100 dollars for a seat in some selected areas along the 8-kilometer parade route.

However, the economic recession did not seem to dim spirits among many spectators who waited overnight on the street in order to capture good viewing spots. Those who spent the night along the route kept themselves busy with books, laptop computers and wireless entertainment.

Police said they made 32 arrests -- most of them for public drunkenness -- along the route of the parade during the first 12 hours of festivities. The number of arrests was up from 12 during the same time period last year, but the crowd also appeared bigger this year.

Organizers said that 46 flowery floats, 22 marching bands and 18 equestrian units from around the world participated in this year's parade.

The tradition of the annual Roses Parade began in 1890, when a Pasadena hunting club decided to hold a festival to tell the world about California. About 2,000 people came out to see flower- covered carriages travel down Colorado Avenue in the first year.

Today around one million people turn out on every New Year's Day to watch dozens of floats, bands and equestrian groups in Pasadena, plus an estimated 40 million television viewers around the world.

(Xinhua News Agency January 2, 2009)

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