Rose Parade ending in disarray after large train float breaks down, creates confusion, delays

January 4, 2019 12:36 am
A float catches fire near the turn from Orange Grove Boulevard onto Colorado Bouelvard. (Trevor Stamp/contributing photographer) 

A 2019 Rose Parade float broke and so did the tow truck brought in to take it away, bringing an unplanned end to the parade for TV audiences Tuesday morning and confusion for the thousands of spectators lining the parade route.

The Chinese American Heritage Foundation’s “Harmony Through Union” stopped moving and smoke began erupting out of it around 9:45 a.m. just before bend in the road where Orange Grove and Colorado boulevards meet.

Marching bands successfully navigated around the 90-foot, two-section float, but the two floats behind it — the last ones in the parade — were unable to do so. Hosts on the KTLA telecast of the parade tried to stall in hopes the obstruction would be removed and the parade could continue as planned.

“We’ve had a bit of a malfunction,” Leeza Gibbons said. “They’re scrambling right now.”

People are leaving in droves, but is the parade over? Looks like a float is in the distance. #RoseParade pic.twitter.com/792jfWaTOB

— Christopher Yee (@ChrisMYee) January 1, 2019

The problem was with the second of the two sections, host Mark Steines said.

A tow truck was able to pull the float to the bend in the road, but then the truck had its own malfunction and a second truck needed to be brought in to take the float away. Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Roy Henstrand said the first two truck’s tow bar broke.

Telecasts were scheduled to end at 10 a.m., just as the confusing scene was beginning to unfold, apparently forcing parade organizers to trigger the ending performance featuring singer Anne-Marie, even though the remaining two floats — South Pasadena’s and DigAlert’s — hadn’t made their way in front of the cameras.

Meanwhile on the streets, thousands of people streamed down Colorado Boulevard, confused about whether the remaining floats would continue their journey. The two floats and performers, including the Royal Swedish Cadet Band, later made their way down the route.

Many of the grandstands were nearly empty. Kim Wagner from Anaheim Hills was among the stragglers.

“It would be really sad to come all the way from Sweden and have no one here to cheer you,” she said. “So it was worth the wait.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been edited to reflect it was a broken tow bar that created the need for a second tow truck.

Staff writers Mike Sprague, Tom Bray and Christopher Yee contributed to this report. Contributing photographer Trevor Stamp contributed to this report. 

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