Ever since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, teams of volunteers and police officers have monitored the dozens of RVs that line the 5 1/2-mile Rose Parade route in Pasadena, Calif.
On Tuesday (Dec. 29), that program, called “Parade Watch,” officially kicked off. Through Friday, the teams will check on RVs, alert their occupants to possible police searches and encourage them to report suspicious activity to police, according to the Pasadena Star-News.
It works much like a Neighborhood Watch program on wheels, Pasadena Police Department spokeswoman Janet Pope Givens said. With RVers keeping watch over each other, arrests have dropped significantly in recent years, she added.
During the last celebrations on the route, only a few dozen or so people have been arrested on New Year’s Eve, Givens said. Before the program and the proliferation of cell phones, hundreds of arrests were common, she said.
Parade Watch team members ask campers to sign a waiver acknowledging that police can search their vehicles at any time. The campers receive a commemorative decal to place in their windshields in return.
“Most people have been here before and they know the routine and look forward to getting the little sticker from us,” said Randy Branson, 66, a Parade Watch volunteer for the last five years.
“It gives us the chance to serve the community and help out the police department. They say they really need us and couldn’t do it without us,” he said.
Bob Beardsley and his wife Kerry of Ben Lomond, Calif., parked their RV on Monday night at Colorado Boulevard and Oak Knoll Avenue. They’ve camped out for the parade for the last 12 years. They welcomed the Parade Watch volunteers.
“It’s great to check up and keep the riff-raff out of town,” Beardsley said.
The Beardsleys climb up onto the roof of their camper to watch the parade.
“If you get up there, you can see it coming,” Beardsley said. “You really get a feel for it.”
Rick Miller and his family from Redlands also arrived Monday and stationed their RV at Colorado and Oakland Avenue.
Miller likes Parade Watch because it marks the first day he is officially allowed to park along the route. Usually, he arrives even earlier to secure his spot and winds up getting parking tickets.
“We end up paying a ticket a day for three days,” Miller said. “But where can you camp for 30 bucks? That’s how I look at it.”