Protesting Sea World at the Rose Parade

by R. Plesset Thursday, Jan. 02, 2014 at 12:33 PM

Many were appalled by Sea World's float--a fantastical depiction of its orcas swimming freely--in the 2014 Rose Parade, especially in the aftermath of the movie Blackfish. Thus, as in recent years, the Rose Parade became a target of protest.

Protesting Sea World...
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(Photo above by Nicolas Tomas)

In the aftermath of the film Blackfish (now on DVD), Sea World may have been hoping its image would improve via its “Sea of Surprises” float in the 2014 Rose Parade.

However, PETA and other activists managed to draw further attention to issues raised in Blackfish, both in the mainstream media--of all places--and at the parade itself.

Sea World opposition was arguably most visible when 19 activists were arrested for trying to block a float near the parade starting point. (The float was heavily guarded there and elsewhere along the route where activists were known to be.)

PETA's pictures of the arrests can be seen here.) By late afternoon, all of them were said to be out of custody and safe.

However, there was activity in diverse locations on or near Colorado Boulevard. There were at least three groups of protesters in separate areas (and some traveled to different places as the parade progressed).

On Los Robles (a few miles from the parade starting point), a group of us stood a block or two south of the parade route, holding signs that said “Sea World: cruel orca prison” and “Boycott Sea World.” Three hundred colorful and comprehensive fliers were distributed at this site alone to people walking toward Colorado from 7am to about 9. Our group (I counted eight of us) then went up to Colorado to protest the Sea World float.

Shortly before it arrived, several riot police appeared and stayed just long enough for the float to pass. We held up our signs as the “free-swimming” orcas passed. (At another point in the parade, we waved at the gay couple that had just been married*.) After the parade ended, some of us followed it for a time. Our signs received both enthusiastic and negative responses. Some gave us thumbs up, even from far away. One passerby justified the captive orcas, saying “but we're all prisoners.” (He at least engaged in discussion.) Another spectator told us, “You'll never free animals from imprisonment.” Many of the unsupportive reactions were snipes by passersby (e.g., “Sea World's a great place” and “We love Sea World”).

One family said they came to see a parade--not protesters. It appears that once again, the "Disneyland bubble" was burst at the Rose Parade.


*We also waved at and applauded volunteers at animal shelters, who were on various floats.