The official car drove backward; the grand marshall wore only underwear and a tux coat; and the official drill team was a greasy band of Hells Angels.
Thus Pasadena, Calif., home of the famed Rose Bowl Parade celebrated, or didn't celebrate, "The Doo Dah Parade," an irreverent satire on parades, floats, beauty pageants and chambers of commerce.
It was only 72 hours before the $1 million Rose Bowl extravaganza, so the 2,000 marchers, who lurched and stumbled down the street Saturday had roses and pink banner at their disposal for a backdrop.
"We decided we could never put the fun back into the Tournament of Roses," said Bruce Stewart, an organizer of the Third Occasional Doo Dah Parade. "So we started our own. You have to put up thousands of dollars to get into the Rose parade, but we're much less exclusive. Doo Dah will let almost anyone march."
Stewart's voice was drowned out by the GAY Band, which was outfitted in regimental shirts and levis. The majorette was a boy with rouged cheeks and a high flying baton that barely missed Stewart's cheek.
Hard on the band's heels came a dancing chocolate chip cookie, a singing marshmallow and two roller-skating crayons."Where can we get our Doo Dah shirts?" asked the orange crayon, holding on to the red crayon to keep her balance. Stewart handed them one.
"The police should give these people a ticket," was the observation of one bystander.
For more than an hour the parade limped along under the Rose Bowl banners. Notable marchers:
Jack and Ruth Romandy, smooth dancers from the Hollywood Stardust ballroom who fox-trotted from one curb to the other.
The McAllister family -- costumed as the Carters, with oversized wax teeth, wigs from a movie studio and clothes from the Salvation Army.
The Doo Dah queen, Sue Wilson, 37, who was chosen because she was the only Doo Dah member with an evening dress.
The Pasadena Financial Drill Team, a covey of bankers who performed close-order drill by banging their briefcases together in unison.
The All-City Waitresses Marching Band, 100 women in starched uniforms playing Christmas carols on kitchen utensils.
Thirty thousand jammed the parade route, not all of them happy.
"I just came down here to see this parade that is ruining the reputation of the Tournament of Roses," said a tall Pasadena woman with a Rose Bowl name tag on her coat. "I don't think these people should be allowed on the city streets."
Hundreds of others felt the same way and booed the parade as it passed. This brought satisfied grins from the Doo Dahs, mischievous viruses in the mainstream of the American parade institution. Doo Dah has no rules, no standards, no classifications and no apparent order.
"Our parade was organized for people like us," said Ruth Romandy. "No one in their right mind would ask us to be in a parade, but this one has a sense of humor. So here we are."
The parade organizers had no idea how many entries there were and made no attempt to bar four-letter words and off-color entries from the celebration.
"None of that matters," said a woman whose voice came from deep within a ladybug costume. "And the crowd doesn't matter either. This parade is for us -- the paraders, and we'd be here if there were only two people to see us." Then she chirped and fluttered off on crepe-paper wings.
"Our parade is really a protest against the formality and commercialization of the Rose Bowl," said Peter Apanel, a founder and ranking Doo Dah officer. Apanel took a step backward and avoided a collision with a man in green, who called himself "The Incredible Bulk," and a highkicking hot dog.
"We were sitting around one night and decided we needed an alternative to the Rose parade," he said. "And this is it."
A sudden roar from the street, and the Great American Lawnmower and Marching Society moved past the reviewing stand. The head mower, Judy Gray, pushed her sputtering machine toward the curb and tipped her hat. "We decided that lawn mowing is a vanishing American art," she said, tripping around her mower in ballet shoes.
Some Rose Bowl officials were publicly incensed about the ragtag march and promised to try to get it off the street next year. "This is just a slap in the face to Pasadena," said Mrs. Lorne Stephens."This is just a cheap, tasteless little affair, and I'm going to take it up with the city council."
There was another blast of street dust and Stephens winced as a band of Hells Angels, "The Road Hoggs," piloted their low-riding cycles down the boulevard. An Angel groupie, her hair greasy and matted and her black leather skirt at less than mini-length, winked at the crowd.
"Oh my God," said Stephens as she headed home, "this is just too much."
At that moment, two cardboard monsters with spaghetti for hair ran by. Over their cardboard rumps were large name tags: "Pasa" and "Dena."
"We are the ghosts," said one of them, "of Rose parades past."