Weather-Spoiled Californians Still Find Comfort in a Cold Rose Parade

"We're spoiled Southern Californians, but we just doubled up the layers and we're feeling good"

The 2015 Rose Parade kicked off with a bang Thursday, as thousands of people gathered to watch one of Southern California's most iconic events.

The spectacle of floats, flowers, music and color took place under sunny skies but lower-than-usual temperatures, forcing some like the Rivera family to bundle up, especially their 3-month-old baby girl, Gabrielle.

"Oh my God, it's been something else, we're definitely not used to it," said Pasadena resident Erica Rivas.

"We're spoiled Southern Californians, but we just doubled up the layers and we're feeling good."

Over 700,000 people were expected to witness Thursday's parade in Pasadena, with many of them coming out even before the sun, braving the fierce cold with blankets, sleeping bags and heaters.

Becuase so many people who camped out came prepared, the Pasadena Fire Department had a quiet, "relatively low call volume" night, a spokeswoman said. The department responded to just 12 medical calls along the parade route overnight.

In its 126th year, the theme for this parade was inspiring stories -- a perfect motto, many said, to welcome 2015.

For Larry and Vivian Lefferts, today's festivities have an extra special meaning. Their son John was an organ donor when he passed away 10 years ago and today, they remembered him by helping out at the Donate Life float, hoping others will be inspired and donate as well.

"It's obvious the benefits to the donor families, is huge, we found a tremendous amount of comfort and healing in this," Larry Lefferts said.

Some of the parades 40 floats took months to prepare, with intricate designs and shapes made entirely out of flowers, plants and seeds, placed carefully by volunteers.

Al Lopez served our country as a marine and, he too, was emotional as he watched the parade, inspired by those who fight for our freedoms.

"It's awesome. It's emotional, and I'm proud to see all the people out here came to see my marines," Lopez said.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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