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Pasadena, CA (Population: 143,731)

Pasadena is the population and cultural center of San Gabriel Valley, in Los Angeles County. The city of Los Angeles is only ten miles southwest, but Pasadena is very self-contained within its own suburbs. The city has a broad economic base, as well as notable cultural, scientific and educational institutions. Pasadena also offers many shopping and dining opportunities that attract people from the region. The city is probably most famous for hosting the annual New Year's Day Rose Bowl football game and Tournament of Roses parade, which features floats completely covered in flowers and other organic matter, to be displayed for over one million viewers.

Pasadena has much to offer in terms of arts and culture. For instance, the Pasadena Symphony and the Pasadena Pops both hold several concerts each year. For theater lovers, the Civic Center holds several traveling Broadway shows each year and the Pasadena Playhouse presents seven shows a season. Also, the award-winning Theater at Boston Court presents four productions a year. Visual arts also have a place in Pasadena, as the city has been home to several nationally reputed artists. The Norton Simon Museum contains over 2,000 years of Asian and Western art. The Pacific Asia Museum houses works from many Asian countries, as well as a tranquil garden in it's center. Finally, the Pasadena Museum of California Art hosts temporary exhibits of California artists.

A not-to-be-missed section of Pasadena is South Orange Grove Boulevard, also known as Millionaire's Row due to the number of landmark mansions that once lined the street. Notable residents once included Adolphus Busch, co-founder of Anheuser Busch, brewer of Budweiser beer; William Wrigley, Jr, maker of Wrigley's chewing gum; and Aleister Crowley, the notorious occultist. These are just a few remarkable names who once inhabited this famous boulevard. Most of these massive estates are now gone, replaced by luxurious apartments and condominiums. Even though most of the famous occupants are gone, it is still nice to say I've seen the site where so-and-so once lived!

Some consider it a nuisance and some consider it a blessing, but like it or not, Pasadena has a population of naturalized parrots. According to the Parrot Project of Los Angeles, there are as many as five different groups of parrots flying freely around the city. The birds can be quite noisy, and somewhat disturbing depending on what part of the day they choose to raise the level of their chatter. Most people believe that the parrots were released into the lush Pasadena area when a nearby nursery burned down in 1959. Residents of Pasadena have largely come to accept the parrots as a part of everyday life.