My beautiful wife and I had the chance to go to the Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena on Jan. 2.

Our friends at Morris Columbus Travel gave us a good deal and we were able to make the trip that included the Griffith Observatory, the parade and post-parade float-viewing festival and a visit to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum.

Of course the whole trip was inspiring and fun and we made a bunch of new friends on the tour bus. The parade was amazing, although shorter than I thought (only 90 or so entrants).

Due to the nature of our tour and our bleacher seating, we had to arrive very early, more than 90 minutes before the parade start. But as it turned out, we were treated to the parade before the parade.

Along with dozens of vendors selling bacon-wrapped hot dogs (at 6:30 a.m.!), cotton candy, parade programs and seat cushions (as well as banners, shirts, and myriad other items), there emerged a veritable cavalcade of -- well -- Jesus freaks.

I'm a religious man. I believe in God and Heaven and Jesus Christ's mission on earth, but this long line of sign-toting, bullhorn-shouting, guilt-inducing religious zealots were just too much.

One sign read (and I kid you not here): "Believe in Jesus or Burn In Hell."

It's like the old Nursery Rhyme about Little Bo Peep where it says to leave the lost sheep alone. They're lost. You have to leave them alone.

If you don't believe in Jesus, you wouldn't believe in Hell either, would you?

The real parade was much better -- and less guilt-ridden. Although at one point, one of the floats featured an actor dressed to look like Jesus. Seizing the opportunity, a group in the crowd vocalized what we were all likely thinking at that moment.

In unison, they shouted, "Happy New Year, Jesus!"


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