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Rose Parade gets off to unusually chilly start

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    The Maui High School band marched in the Rose Parade Thursday.

  • Rose Parade spectators kept warm around a fire while waiting the start of the 126th Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif. on Thursday. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • The Maui High School "Saber" marching band and color guard, from Kahului on the island of Maui in Hawaii, performed at Bandfest, a pre-Rose Parade event featuring every marching band that will appear in the Jan. 1, Tournament of Roses in Pasadena, Calif. (AP Photo/Pasadena Star-News) (AP Photo/The Pasadena Star-News, Walt Mancini)

PASADENA, Calif. » Fans who lined the Rose Parade route Thursday bundled in blankets, hats and gloves and sipped steaming cups of coffee and cocoa as the day dawned unusually frigid.

A cold snap that hit the West had temperatures a notch above freezing hours before the start, but not cold enough to break the 1952 record of 32 degrees.

"I dressed in four to five layers," said Paul Josephson, a volunteer who cleaned up after the horses. "The problem with LA is that it’s cold in the morning, then hot. So you’re going to want to strip out of that down coat after a couple of hours."

Spectators may have shed some layers as the sun lit up the bright floats woven together with roses and carnations and other plant material, but signs of the chill were abundant as marching bands, and color guards danced their way past thousands of spectators and a live TV audience.

The University of Southern California mascot, Tommy Trojan, wore a long coat over his roman armor and gladiator sandals. Members of a high school color guard from Hawaii wiggled their hips in pink skirts and bare shoulders. Florida State University Seminoles dancers looked freezing in their tights and leotards.

The 126th Rose Parade, around the theme of "Inspiring Stories," featured a riderless horse that represented grand marshal Louis Zamperini, a World War II hero and former Olympian, who died in July. Zamperini is the subject of a best-selling book and the movie "Unbroken," now in theaters.

"He really is the embodiment of inspiring stories, and there was no way we were going to change that," said Richard Chinen, president of the 2015 Tournament of Roses.

Zamperini’s son, daughter and other family members rode in a car in his place.

Accompanied by a soundtrack from marching bands and entertained by different dance routines, spectators enjoyed 39 eye-popping floats decorated with fresh-cut flowers highlighting historic figures, celebrities and popular culture.

Cast members from "The Love Boat" rode on a Princess Cruises float, waving as if the ship were pulling from the dock in the show’s opening scenes.

Crowds roared as a giant pink hippopotamus float twitched its ears and belched blue and white balloons from its mouth.

For the first time, the Sikh community entered the parade with a float replica of their 100-year-old place of worship in Stockton, California. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation float honored doctors and nurses who went to Africa to help Ebola victims.

Police said 16 people were arrested, most on suspicion of being drunk in public. Several were taken into custody early in the parade and accused of attempting to interfere with the floats. Four of those were protesters and carried signs in remembrance of Ezell Ford, a 25-year-old black man who was fatally shot by a Los Angeles Police Department officer in August, according to KNBC-TV.

Cold temperatures were expected to last to the weekend, with the National Weather Service forecasting freezing temperatures overnight into Friday across Southern California, which wasn’t the only place in the West dealing with winter weather.

Crews cleared roads after snow fell on parts of Arizona and New Mexico, and forecasters predicted Colorado would get 8 to 16 inches of snow in some mountain areas. A 90-mile stretch of Interstate 40 in Arizona remained closed Thursday afternoon because of snow and ice, and roads were slick and icy in spots all the way into Oklahoma and western Texas.

American Airlines canceled nearly 300 flights out of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport due to patchy fog and ice. Temperatures across the region were at least 20 degrees below normal.

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