Surprise military family reunion at Rose Parade

A servicemember’s reunion with his son, a wedding atop a float and more than 20 marching bands are some of the highlights of the 124th Tournament of Roses Parade Tuesday in Pasadena.

Devoted Rose parade fans, dressed in layers and covered in blankets, camped out in cold conditions overnight on Colorado Boulevard for a view of the floats, equestrians and bands. Thousands of spectators — the overnight campers and others with reserved seats in the grandstands — gathered to watch the 124th Tournament of Roses Parade, including grand marshal Jane Goodall, on Colorado Boulevard.

A father returning from military service was riding on one of the floats before his surprise reunion with his son and wife on Colorado Boulevard.

Sgt. First Class Eric Pazz served in Iraq and Afghanistan, earning the Purple Heart and Bronze Star. He was riding on the “Canines with Courage” float, honoring military service dogs.

Wife Miriam Pazz had been told she had won a contest to attend the parade and did not know her 32-year-old husband would be there. The family embraced and waved to a cheering crowd before riding the remainder of the parade route together on the float.

“I was so excited,” Miriam Pazz said. “This was my first time being here.

“I think about him a lot. Every day, every minute almost.”

Natural Balance Pet Foods secretly flew SFC Pazz to Southern California. The family lives in Germany, but Miriam Pazz and the couple’s son had not seen him for months.

“He looked up at me and said, ‘Daddy, is it March already? Is that why you’re home?'” said SFC Pazz. “To be honest, I was choking back tears the whole time.”

Farmers Insurance’s “The Love Float” was the location of a wedding. The couple from Virginia were high school classmates who reconnected and won a nationwide contest to become husband and wife on the parade float.

More than 40 floral floats, 23 marching bands and equestrian units are part of the parade. Click here for a list of award-winning parade floats.

Grand marshal Jane Goodall, a lifelong advocate for the protection of endangered species, waved to the crowd from a carriage. She was accompanied by members of Roots and Shoots, her institute’s global environmental and humanitarian youth program.

Overnight campers endured temperatures in the 30s overnight, but avoided heavy traffic in the area.

“I’m looking forward to smelling the roses,” said a West Los Angeles resident dressed in a Batman Snuggie at the corner of Colorado Boulevard and Fair Oaks Avenue. “Everyone says you can smells the roses and it’s fresh, so I’m waiting for that.”

The temperature warmed to 46 degrees at about 7 a.m. in Pasadena. High clouds are forecast to clear later Tuesday morning as temperatures climb into the low 60s.

Spectators were allowed to gather at noon Monday. On Tuesday night, those spectators could move to the so-called curbside honor line and remain there overnight.

A woman from Santa Fe Springs and her grandchildren arrived Monday at noon. The woman, identified as Charlotte, said she used to come to the parade as a child and arrived at about 3 a.m. to find a viewing location.

“Now, if you arrive at 3 o’clock in the morning, you don’t get a spot,” she said.

More than 20 arrests were reported between 6 p.m. Monday and 8 a.m. Tuesday. Most of those arrests were for public intoxication.

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