Though none of the drama surrounding Tuesday’s Tournament of Roses Parade was noted during ABC’s coverage of USC’s Rose Bowl rout of Illinois, the LA Times’ Joe Mozingo and David Pierso took note of a story slightly bigger than say, Steve Garvey riding on a float.

Expected high winds and a threatened disruption of the parade by protesters never materialized. Human-rights activists had tried for months to block a float promoting the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

They say the float, co-sponsored by the People’s Republic of China and the Pasadena-based Avery Dennison Corp., is a propaganda tool for a government that sanctions imprisonment and torture of it opponents.

At the corner of Ellis Street and Orange Grove Avenue, about 100 protesters chanted and waved signs, one with an image of the Olympic rings as handcuffs.

“I went around reminding people they are American and not to forget what you stand for,” said Kai Chen, 54, of Los Angeles, passing out T-shirts equating the Olympics to the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989. “The Rose Parade is a great opportunity to express our grievances because we have a target with the float.”

But all in all, the float was greeted warmly by spectators and even won a trophy for representing the parade’s theme. The protesters were barely noticed except by parade viewers in the immediate area.

“Human rights are a big violation in China,” said Katie Schwarzenbach, born and raised in Pasadena. “But my rights are being violated here in Pasadena. They’re blocking my view. It’s not appropriate.”