Just Imagine the Rose Parade Occupied for the People

occupy rose paradeEver since I learned Just Imagine was the chosen theme for this year’s Tournament of Roses Parade, I kept thinking about John Lennon. For so many of us, millions, perhaps even billions worldwide, the word “imagine” evokes an instant image of the pop-culture icon. His face, his round specs and his musical masterpiece permeate our minds. The melody and lyrics are transformational:

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people living for today

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace

You, you may say
I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people sharing all the world

You, you may say
I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

occupy rose parade

"Occupus" Taken from video by Owen Driggs

But for some, these lyrics seem meaningless, even absurd. Perhaps because the very same vagaries the lyrics decry are inherent to their personas. Perhaps they’re consumed by greed or owned by possessions. Perhaps they subjugate through religion or can’t bear to share. Perhaps they choose division over unity or war over peace.

That’s them. Not me.

For me and others like me, John Lennon’s song imagines our world.

This year, the Just Imagine themed 123rd Rose Parade falls on Monday, January 2nd to honor an obscure 1893 tradition. Also this year, in what defines another Rose Parade tradition, in addition to the standard fare of high school and university bands, prancing horses, law enforcement groups, local government and civic organizations, the Rose Parade will be satiated with the ubiquitous (and seemingly mandatory) military and corporations.

occupy rose parade

Clifford Tasner of The Billionaires

The Parade’s Grand Marshal is Iraq War vet, actor, and Dancing With the Stars champ JR Martinez. The Air Force’s B-2 Spirit will perform its ceremonial flyover and the Marine Corps band will entertain.

The corporations, ranging from major banks (Wells Fargo, US Bank), credit card (Discover), food (Dole), insurance (Farmers), airline (China), drug (Bayer), auto (Honda) and more, will be well represented by more than a dozen lavishly decorated floats.

Undeniably, military might and corporate cachet will be front and center in the Just Imagine Rose Parade.

But don’t despair you lovers of John Lennon. The spirit of your Imagine will not be forsaken. Immediately following the might & money march comes the occupiers’ march – the people’s march – replete with their own mighty float, Occupus, the greedy corporate octopus whose tentacles pierce homes, workplaces and pockets to terrorize victims.

They come bearing the People’s Constitution which grants We The People our rights.

And they come with the Supreme Court’s most recent perversion of the Constitution that grants “We The Corporations” We The People’s rights.

On January 2nd, thanks to the hard work and determination of members of the Occupy Movement, in particular organizer Peter Thottam, the 123rd Rose Parade is permitting viewers to Just Imagine how spectacular our country could be if greed and war disappeared. Lets re-Imagine
the missions of the Parade’s “main stage” performers:

Just Imagine that universities were free, or at minimum affordable, and that high schools and all schools were sufficiently staffed, funded and maintained to provide the best education possible.

occupy rose paradeJust Imagine that local governments had sufficient funding and compassionate un-purchased electeds who legislated to provide the best services, best infrastructure and best practices to the people.

Just Imagine that law enforcement weren’t so militarized and desensitized. Just Imagine they stopped delegitimizing dissent and criminalizing participatory democracy.

Just Imagine that Wells Fargo Bank and all banks stopped foreclosing on houses. Just Imagine that Wells Fargo Bank and all banks made rightful and fair financial arrangements with homeowners so they need not ever go homeless.

Just Imagine that credit card companies charged appropriate interest and stopped ambushing cardholders with inflated unreasonable fees.

Just Imagine that drug companies cared more for health and less for profit.

Just Imagine that recycled plastic bags like those comprising Occupus weren’t strangling our planet and that the vibrant flowers adorning the floats replaced their strangulation with oxygenation.

Just Imagine that Rose Parade Grand Marshal JR Martinez (who was wounded in war), joins with Occupy The Rose Parade’s Cindy Sheehan (whose son was killed in war), at Pasadena City Hall for the Occupy post parade press conference and concert. Just Imagine that together they call for an end to war and an end to the military industrial complex. Just Imagine that JR’s future child and Cindy grandchildren – let’s make that ALL children – never face the prospect of fighting in war.

I understand these imaginings are ambitious. Some will say unattainable. But they’re goals. Necessary goals.

Across this nation growing numbers of people are coming together with these same goals in mind. They’re occupying banks, foreclosed homes, universities, courts, offices of electeds, corporate headquarters, public squares and even globally televised parades. They’re working to level the playing field. It’s not about politics. It’s about fairness.

Linda Milazzo

Perhaps you might join them…

You, you may say
I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

Just Imagine a happy, peaceful (and equitable) new year!

Linda Milazzo

Photos by Linda Milazzo


  1. -Nate says

    You are not alone Cindy ! I hope you’ll post a photo of your float as I’ll not be able to watch the Parade….


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