Thursday, January 2, 2014

Everybody loves a parade

Happy new year, everyone!

Yesterday, the first day of 2014, we woke up at 4 am and made our way to Pasadena to watch the Rose  Bowl Parade. My very own Michigan State Spartans had made it to the Rose Bowl for the first time in 26 years, and while tickets were outside of my price range, I was not going to miss the parade.

I even had green boots!
I've watched the Rose Bowl Parade every year of my life. I've marveled at how the floats could be made out of all organic material. I wondered how a band actually got to march in the parade (yeah, well...I'm a bandsie, what can I say?). And I wanted so badly to be there, to see it in person. Yesterday was the realization of a dream that was made even sweeter because I was surrounded by my fellow Spartans who, like me, were decked out in their finest green and white.

There were some really emotional moments, like when the Spartan band marched past and they played the MSU fight song while the crowd sang along. I swear it was like I was back in college.

Or when the float passed by with WWII women pilots. Just wow.

There were some joyous moments, like the float where a gay couple had just gotten married and were waving enthusiastically at the cheering crowd,

or when KC and the Sunshine Band played "Get Down Tonight" and there were a crowd of dancing grapes around them (ok, that was actually kinda weird).

Or when a friend from high school and I met up briefly before the parade for the first time in over 20 years (great to see you, Sara!).

There was tension when the Sea World float passed by, surrounded by armed guards because of the protesters who were following alongside on the sidewalk. Note: must see Blackfish.

There were some funny moments, like a little dog doing a handstand on his trainer's palm on one of the floats, or the marching band that broke rank to take a picture with a bunch of kids when the parade stopped due to a float that broke down, or how badly Darryl Hall was lip synching.

There was that awful moment when the Stanford band passed by. Ugh.

There was the awesome moment when a protester with a giant paper mache Bible tried to start moralizing to the crowd when John jumped up and shouted "Go Green!" and the bleacher section across from us shouted back "Go White!" and they all kept it up, back and forth, until the preacher/protester got so frustrated that no one could hear him over the Michigan State fans that he gave up and ran off.
My husband is great at creative problem solving ;)

The designer in me couldn't help but consider how the parade differed in person than all of those years on tv. It was really like a different parade. We got to see the high school kids marching up close and marvel at their uniforms. We got to hear Natalie Cole exclaim to the crowd, "I've never had to wave so much in all my life!" We got to see the excitement and antics of the horse cleanup crews who followed behind every horse entry (there were a lot)...they were adorable and got more cheers than some of the floats. We got to see the crowds on the sidewalks who had been sleeping in impromptu camps all night, go from air mattresses and fire pits to cheering fans full of wonder. We didn't get the color commentary from the television announcers; we got the parade experience, with all of it's realness and imperfections and context.

That's what immersion is all about. As I prepare to launch my book on Immersive Learning, the Rose Bowl parade was the perfect way to remind me of the difference between curated, packaged content and learning through practice, failure, context and experience.

It was a great way to start the year. Also, the Spartans won! Want to sing along with me? :) 

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