One of the most talked-about moments of the 2013 Rose Parade was when a young boy with his mother stepped out for what he thought was a photo opp and wound up in the arms of his soldier dad. Photographer Ramona Monteros caught the moment for this column.
Mom and son, Miriam Pazz and Eric Pazz II, were in prime seats on Orange Grove Blvd., thinking they had won a contest to see the Rose Parade. They had flown in from their home base in Germany for the event. Miriam was taking photos of the Natural Balance “Canines with Courage” float honoring dogs who serve in war, just before it rounded the corner to Colorado Blvd. The float stopped—something Rose Parade floats never do unless the parade is backed up—and a camo-clad soldier stepped off the float with open arms.
Dick Van Patten’s Natural Balance Pet Foods, the company that brought viewers skateboarding, snowboarding, skim boarding, and surfing dogs had an even bigger Rose Parade moment up its sleeve. There, in the middle of Orange Grove in front of the press stands, the four-year-old flew into the arms of his dad, Army Sgt. 1st Class Eric Pazz, whom he had not seen for most of 2012.
“All I wanted to do was hold my wife and son and tell them I love them,” Pazz said in a televised interview shortly after the parade ended last Tuesday morning. “I was lost in the moment. There was nothing going on in the world except on the ground my family was standing on.”
And then something else that never happens in a Rose Parade happened. Miriam and little Eric climbed onto the “Canines with Courage” float and enjoyed the rest of the Rose Parade with one of the best seats in Pasadena.
The reunion took several months to arrange, according to Daniel Bernstein, publicist for Natural Balance, and required “an enormous amount of preparation and coordination with the military and parade officials.” Part of the secret would be the number of riders, because all riders must be represented during testing and judging.
Sgt. Pazz is headed back to Afghanistan now, but he and his family have a memory that will be revisited many times over the years.
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Sources: KTLA5, Los Angeles Times