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Expo 2010 float shines at Pasadena Parade

EXPO Shanghai float yesterday became the first World Expo-themed float that joined the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena in this event's 121-year history.

The float carrying floral replicas of Shanghai landmarks impressed audiences and received rounds of applause and cheers from spectators.

Kungfu film star, Jackie Chan, an Expo image ambassador, also stood on the float. Jose Villarreal, the United States Commissioner General to the Expo and Chinese baseball team coach for the 2008 Olympics Jim Lefebvre were also waving towards the audiences to cheer up for the 184-day event, which will start in May 1 in Shanghai. Shanghai-born NBA star Yao Ming, who flew 12 hours from Shanghai to Los Angeles for this event, couldn't join the float because of his injury.

Leading this year's parade was Captain Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger III, the man who became a national hero after safely landing a stricken jetliner on New York's Hudson River. He rode down Pasadena's Colorado Boulevard in a vintage 1928 Pierce Arrow with his wife and two daughters as part of the annual armada of flower-draped floats, marching bands and prancing horses to celebrate New Year's Day.

Sullenberger said he did not hesitate when asked to serve as grand marshal because his family has watched the parade for decades.

"It's really an American institution, a celebration of American values," he said after the parade. "I think people see those in me, and I'm glad."

This year's Rose Parade had something for everyone.

Under signature sunny Southern California skies, onlookers gasped when the cannons of Honda's three-masted, sailing ship float boomed and shot sparklers and smoke rings toward the bleachers.

A float celebrating Mexico's bicentennial featured Mexico City's landmark Angel of Independence and an intricate flower Aztec calendar, as well as dancers costumed in traditional dresses.

The Kansai Honor Band from Japan rallied the crowd with "Thriller" dance moves and a color guard sporting teased hair and kimonos.

The parade came 20 hours after hundreds of thousands of people began staking out sidewalk space along the route for the annual New Year's Eve celebration. They lugged sleeping bags, lawn chairs and party favors then spent the night under the light of a rare blue moon - the second full moon in a month.

The selection of Sullenberger as grand marshal was a change from the crowd-pleasing show biz types who've led the parade in recent years. Last year, "Dancing With the Stars" favorite and 1970s sitcom star Cloris Leachman was grand marshal. The year before, it was celebrity-chef Emerile Lagasse.

Sullenberger was chosen to embody the theme of the 2010 parade, "A Cut Above the Rest."


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