One hundred twenty-five years of tradition collided with change and controversy as the Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif., today included a gay marriage ceremony on a float.
The theme of the parade was “Dreams Come True,” and they evidently did for Danny LeClair and Aubrey Loots.
In a note posted to Facebook, LeClair wrote that he wanted to provide the world with a glimpse of a loving gay marriage.
“I could not pass up the opportunity to declare my love and commitment to my soon-to-be husband for the whole world to bear witness,” he wrote. “This is an opportunity to celebrate the long journey to Marriage Equality and honor those who came before us.”
Nevertheless, supporters of traditional marriage objected. A San Diego woman created a Facebook group to protest the ceremony, and urged people not to view it live or on television.
“I guess they think they can pervert this year’s theme “Dreams Come True,” to allow this disgusting exhibition,” she wrote. “Tell them NO! Tell their sponsors NO. Tell them you will boycott the parade by not watching or attending, and that you will NEVER watch or be part of it again.”
Another point of contention involved animal rights, as members of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) planned to protest a float sponsored by Sea World. According to the group’s Twitter page, 17 activists were arrested at the parade site, though it was not immediately clear what charges were pressed.
A representative of the city of Pasadena confirmed to ABC News that 19 arrests were made during the parade, though he could not offer specific details on individual arrests and charges.
While controversies stole headlines, they did not overshadow some of the more lighthearted floats and moments from the parade.
Dodgers play-by-play announcer Vin Scully served as the Grand Marshal of the parade, and was met with an enthusiastic welcome from the crowd. Other highlights included a record-setting, 274-foot-long float from Honda, a performance by the Harlem Globetrotters, and a celebration of female pilots who served in World War II.
The Rose Parade occurs every New Year’s Day in Pasadena, and dates back to 1890 according to the Tournament of Roses website. Float decorators work through the year to decorate floats using solely organic materials. The parade travels through downtown Pasadena in the morning, leading up to the Rose Bowl college football game in the afternoon.