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Link Sees Rose Parade From A Different Vantage Point

QUARTER CENTURY OF SERVICE: San Marino’s Dave Link is in his 25th year of service to the Pasadena Tournament of Roses, having just completed a term as Chair of Parade Operations.

With chilly temperatures and a brisk morning breeze, 2019 arrived in Pasadena more like the proverbial lion than the lamb. And while many in Southern California were lucky enough to wake up on January 1 and hit the ’snooze’ button, Monday seamlessly rolled into Tuesday for San Marino’s Dave Link.

It’s a labor of love for Link that has now spanned a full quarter century. Yes, exactly 25 years have passed since Link first donned the white suit and committed himself to a lot of service and very little sleep this time of year.

“I grew up in Altadena and over the years I became aware that there were a bunch of people in white suits that helped out at the Rose Parade,” said Link. “My first contact with the Tournament was as a member of the Tournament of Roses band, which is made up of students from Pasadena City College and several local high schools. Years later, I learned that the Tournament of Roses was actually managed by those white-suiters. I was impressed that something so big could be managed by a bunch of volunteers, so I joined the Tournament to help out.”

A graduate of John Muir High School, Link played the snare drum and was a section leader in PCC’s marching band when he was asked to take his talents to the Tournament band.

Link spent this past Tuesday morning set up on the corner of Orange Grove Boulevard and Green Street, where he was performing his duties as the Tournament of Roses Chair of Parade Operations, a job that came to a harsh end with just a handful of attractions yet to make their way down the parade route.

The trouble came with the 38th float, the Chinese American Heritage Foundation’s “Harmony Through Union,” suffered a ruptured hydraulic fluid line that sparked a small fire and disabled the heaviest float in the parade. Adding insult to insult, the tow bar broke on the first vehicle that arrived to move the injured float, causing a wait for its backup.

A 30-minute delay led to the early evacuation of many parade-goers further down the route, but the crisis came to a safe conclusion as all associated with the stricken float were taken away without incident. In spite of the well-publicized accident, Link was his typically positive upbeat self the day after the event.

“We were elated at how the parade was going up until the final five minutes when we had that unfortunate incident,” Link said “Things were going right on schedule and we were getting all the entries in front of the television cameras and down the road perfectly. The sad part is that a few floats and a band didn’t get their time at TC corner and we feel terrible about that. All the work, all the planning and all the execution that goes into those floats and they all deserve their proper exposure.”

Link said the Tournament of Roses will launch a full investigation into the cause of the fire.

“What we are most pleased about is that everyone got out of the event safely,” Link said. “The fire was put out with extinguishers that are by rule placed on each float so that safety measure worked.”

He was also pleased that the cold snap broke shortly before the 8:00 a.m. parade start and high winds that were predicted never materialized.

“It was a beautiful day and a great parade and we will learn from what happened and do better next year,” Link said.

HOLDING UP THE PARADE: The heaviest float in the parade, sponsored by the Chinese American Heritage Foundation, suffered a ruptured hydraulic fluid line causing a small fire and 30 minute delay. Photo by Mikey Hirano Culross

Link has served on many committees for the Tournament, including a memorable stint last year as Chair of the Queen & Court Committee. But during the buildup to 2019, he said he looked forward to returning to Parade Operations.

“I loved the logistical challenge,” Link said. “We spent months watching the floats being built and road tested. Then we put together a timing sheet so that every entry would get their share of television coverage. Then, in the early morning hours of New Year’s Day, we put the parade together on Orange Grove. We managed the flow of the parade in front of live television and then all the way to the end of the route. That was a great experience.”

Dave is president of Link-Nilsen Corp., which does design and installation of commercial fire sprinkler and fire suppression systems.

His wife, Lisa, is a retired attorney, is in her second term as a member of the San Marino School Board. Last month she was elected by her fellow board members to serve a second term as president. The couple have two children. Andy, 27, graduated from San Marino High School in 2010, earned a diploma from Claremont McKenna College in 2014 and oversees brewing operations for Beachwood Brewing in Huntington Beach.

Ryan, 22, graduated from SMHS in 2014 and recently graduated from Occidental College.

“Since joining the Tournament of Roses, I have had lots of assignments,” Link said. “That’s one of the fascinating features of the Tournament: every two years you get a brand new job. I have hosted dinners for the coaching staffs of the football teams who have played in the Rose Bowl game and have tended barricades in the formation area, at post parade and at the float decorating locations. I have driven a scooter down the parade route. I have managed the Beef Bowl. I have been a parking lot attendant. I have hosted luncheons for former Rose Queens. And I have helped line up the parade and get it to TV Corner on time. It has been a wide, wonderful variety.”

Aside from Parade Operations, Link has chaired the Heritage Committee, the University Entertainment Committee, the Community Relations Committee, the Queen and Court Committee and the Parade Operations Committee.

“And they are all tons of fun,” he said.

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