Updated: 01/01/2014 12:44 PM
Created: 01/01/2014 12:31 PM KSTP.com
By: Jennie Olson
As festive floats marched down this Southern California city's streets in the 125th Rose Parade on New Year's Day, a heavy police presence ringed the revelry in the aftermath of tragedy at another high-profile event.
Spectators, including many who camped overnight, jammed sidewalks along the 5 1/2-mile route under sunny skies in Pasadena.
For the first time in parade history, two men planned to tie the knot on a float by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.
Aubrey Loots and Danny Leclair, who met across a crowded dance floor 12 years ago, will be perched on a giant wedding-cake-shaped platform in a ceremony that will be watched by millions.
After learning of the couple's intentions, Karen Grube of San Diego launched a "Boycott the 2014 Rose Parade" Facebook page. At least one other group opposing same-sex marriage also called for a boycott.
The Pasadena Tournament of Roses, which puts on the parade, defended its decision, saying that the float represents this year's parade theme, "Dreams Come True."
Los Angeles Dodgers longtime broadcaster Vin Scully, the parade's grand marshal, kicked off the show after six F-16s from the Air Force's Thunderbirds roared overhead.
"Instead of me throwing out the first pitch, let's start the parade," he said.
He'll also toss the kickoff coin at the Rose Bowl match later Wednesday between Stanford and Michigan State
One by one, flowered floats, exotic equestrians and brass bands marched along the route.
Security was beefed up this year in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings. Bomb-sniffing dogs and a wide range of video surveillance were used to detect suspicious behavior.
Pasadena Police Chief Phillip Sanchez estimated that more than 1,100 officers will patrol the parade route, according to the Pasadena Star-News. The department has been reviewing tragedies such as the one in Boston in April.
"All eyes will be on Pasadena," Sanchez said.
Sanchez also asked spectators to be vigilant and to notify law enforcement immediately if they suspect something out of sorts.
"lf one of the parade-goers sees something suspicious, and what I mean by that is they walk up and put a bag down and they walk away from that bag, have the courage and the insight and the willingness to engage and call that to the attention of local law enforcement officers," he said.
Several protests are planned, including Occupy Fights Foreclosures, which will follow the Rose Parade with three of its own floats.
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