Gallery: The 2013 Pasadena Rose Parade
PASADENA - The Rose Queen and court had an unexpected escort for a 100-foot stretch of the Rose Parade route on Tuesday, as a man and his three mules abruptly walked onto Colorado Boulevard.
He said his name was Mule. He wore a tattered jacket held together by duct tape. His three mules carried all Mule's belongings in packs slung across their backs. They didn't have names, according to their owner.
"They're just mules," Mule said.
But the quartet had a purpose.
"You got all this glitz and nice presentation, but when you look at us people on the ground, we are dirty, we smell, but we are real," Mule said. "We just wanted to bring something real to the parade."
Mules said he left Arizona in February 2012 to march in the Rose Parade, walking a few miles each day. The final leg from San Diego to Pasadena took him a month to complete.
Mule entered the parade route at Colorado Boulevard and Lake Avenue right as the Rose Court float crossed the intersection. The smell of his mules and his constant shoveling of their dung captured the attention of the crowd, many of whom didn't know whether Mule was part of the show.
Mule kept the mule dung in a green bag.
Four Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department deputies surrounded Mule about 100 feet from where he entered the parade route. The deputies escorted Mule off the route.
Sheriff's officials said they won't press charges and that Mule didn't give them any trouble when asked to get himself and his mules off Colorado Boulevard.
But his hasty exit from the parade didn't dissuade Mule from completing his mission. Mule wants people to live in accord with nature. He operates a website, 3mules.com, which preaches about the benefits of natural living.
"To answer the most asked questions: Who are we? Where are we from? And where are we going? We are mules. We are from the outside. We live outside all day , every day. Where are we going? Nowhere, we're here- the outside, the web of life- the beautiful earth, a place like no other. We have come to this place-a place of golden sparkling light, a place for anybody and everybody. Give your faith, hope and energy to this place at which time you connect to it and receive the magic and endless possibility of infinity. As you walk in this place with these mules you spread the awareness that this beautiful earth like no other can only be protected by the way we live one day at a time," reads the text on the website.
The Rose Parade has been a magnet for fringe religious and political groups who want to deliver their message to mass audience. Mule is the latest in a long line of Rose Parade side shows. Christian groups evangelize before and after the parade with signs warning parade-goers to repent. The Occupy movement has twice used the parade to deliver its anti-corporate message.