From humble origins with carts decorated by flowers, Pasadena's Tournament of Roses Parade has grown into the world's most famous parade. It starts at 8 a.m. New Year's Day; places to sit along most of its route on Orange Grove and Colorado Boulevards are free and first-come, first-served (many viewers camp overnight to secure a front-row spot). But there are other ways to take in the spectacle:
• Volunteer for float assembly. Most floats are built by private companies. But six communities and organizations still design and assemble their own floats and welcome volunteers. Visit www.tournamentofroses.com or call 626/449-7673.
• Stop by a float-decorating site. Before the parade, four sites are open to the public to view floats being decorated. Dec 28-31; $5. Various locations; for information and tickets, contact Sharp Seating Company (www.sharpseating.com or 626/795-4171.
• See the floats afterward. Post-Parade: A Showcase of Floats lets you walk by the full lineup. 1-3:30 Jan 1, 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Jan 2; $7. For location, and tickets, contact Sharp Seating Company (see above).