The Granddaddy Of Them All

February 11, 2020

There are hundreds of venues to watch a college football game, all with unique traditions, fans and sights. However, most people agree that Pasadena, Calif. is home to the premier place to watch a game. The Rose Bowl, nicknamed “The Grandaddy of them All”, has played host to some of the country’s greatest sporting events since it was built in 1902, but it is most known for the annual bowl game that takes place there.

The premier college team from the West Coast has met up with the best from the North in the Rose Bowl every year since 1916, and it has seen some of the greatest players and coaches take part in the game. The day of the game, traditionally Jan. 1st, is started off with the Parade of Roses, and capped off with roughly 92,000 people filing into the bowl that feeds into one of the most visibly-appealing fields in the country.

For me, attending the Rose Bowl was a bucket list item. Every avid college football fan dreams of going to the Rose Bowl Game, and that dream came true for me. Oregon, my favorite team, managed to trample Utah in the Pac-12 title game, thus clinching a berth in the Rose Bowl. I had passingly mentioned that I would love to go out and watch them play, but I really never expected it to happen.

Then, on my birthday, I was stunned that my dad had gotten us two tickets to the Rose Bowl. This was the first gift that they had ever got for me that truly left me speechless, and I quickly found out that I had a 6 a.m. plane trip out to LAX awaiting me the morning of New Year’s Day, and a trip back at 10 p.m. (Pacific time). 

So, I woke up at 4 a.m. the morning of Jan. 1st with the longest flight of my life ahead. I had been to the West Coast once when I was 12, but that was to take a trip to Oregon to watch a game; California was very different.

A couple things stood out to me immediately. First was obviously the weather. Heat over there is not at all like the thick humidity that exists in the southeast. Instead, every day seems like a perfect one, no matter the temperature, with the lack of moisture in the air. 

After touching down in LAX, we drove around downtown LA and Beverly Hills. Looking out the window at the passing buildings, I noticed a strange recurrence of pet-related shops, one even claiming to be strictly for dog bowels. Looking at every canine walking on the sidewalk somewhat explained that, as they all were small, preppy-looking dogs that looked very well taken care of. Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive were visually appealing, but what really caught my eye was the backdrop of the city. In a 360 degree view, I could see the hills that surround the valley, and it was truly breath-taking. Everything just seemed more open and spacious with the rolling high ground encircling the area, and the palm trees and clear skies contributed to the relaxed, peaceful kindl of the area.

After Beverley Hills came Hollywood, with the sidewalks coated in stars of famous film and TV stars and vibrant buildings popping up everywhere. But it was now nearing kickoff, so my tour of LA was short-lived as we made our way over to Pasadena.

One thing I had not expected regarding the Rose Bowl was the tailgate scene. Upon parking, I quickly remembered that these were Wisconsin fans, and they definitely knew how to tailgate. Walking in we were offered some of the Badger faithful’s best cheeses, and although Oregon has some of the more passionate fans in the country, the people in red and white were far rowdier before the game.

The famous Rose Bowl insignia overlooked the walkway up to the front of the stadium, and upon entering the stadium, I was greeted by the most pristine playing field I had ever seen. The whole atmosphere of the Rose Bowl, from the field to the fans, was so regal and formal, it made being there seem like an honor.

The B-2 Stealth Bomber flyover and national anthem was incredible, but it was merely the second most awe-inspiring moment of the game.

Oregon and Wisconsin went back and forth for most of the game, and after the third quarter came to a close, the score read 24-21. During that intermission, I saw possibly the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. The sun slowly set over the LA hills, and the sky took on a shade of deep pink and orange. Never before had I seen a sunset like this, and the fact that it was overlooking the Rose Bowl made it so much sweeter. Oregon’s silver chrome helmets reflected the pink sky and produced some of the best football pictures of all time, which can be seen here:

After a dramatic final quarter in which Oregon got a key turnover that allowed them to take the lead, the Duck fan section surrounding my father and I went ballistic. The Oregon players stormed the field as the clock hit zeros, and the happiness on their faces was contagious.

Confetti cannons exploded in both end zones, and as the green and yellow strips swirled past my head, I grabbed as many as I could to bring back home. The t-shirt I bought before the game was my official souvenir, but the confetti held a bit more value to me. 

With four pieces of confetti in my pocket, we departed the stadium and set course for the one tourist spot I really wanted to hit: In-N-Out. I got a double-double with fries, but, being my father, my dad forced me to wait and eat until we got to the airport so we did not miss our flight. Per usual, we arrived an hour early and had no need to rush. So, sadly, the fries were cold, but the burger itself was a 10/10, easily surpassing any fast food burger from the East Coast.

The flight back was long, and we landed back at Hartsfield-Jackson around 4 a.m, a full day after I had woken up to leave for LA. The Rose Bowl had truly lived up to the hype, and it was far and away the best trip I have ever taken.

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